Here is a list of professions which are largely phony, and sometimes outright fraud. More than 95% of the stuff these professionals do is useless or harmful, only 5% can be called useful at best.
The profession believes in the "adjustments by force" of your bones and joints to remove your pain/cure you. The therapy has no logic at all. Back pain being a major problem for humanity, many resort to this pseudo profession to get rid of it. Some are cured spontaneously, and attribute the success to chiropractors. The others are not cured and go on to find other therapies. There is a substantial portion which is left worse than before (applying pressure to zones which are already hurting contradicts the basic philosophy of biological animals-the pain is there to essentially immobilize (rest) that part-that is the main function of this pain-and to make this part move more cannot be good for you). I went to a couple of chiropractors in different countries, and their dialogue is full of pseudo-science. They even will try to tell you that your whole spine is defective, that regular checkups of the spine are necessary, etc. etc...all to justify the foolish procedures which they want to do on you. They will display elaborate musculoskeletal charts in their offices, pretending to be medics. Usage of charts, graphs, diagrams and tables is nothing new-astrologers have used them for centuries to fool the public that there is science and math behind what they say. I highly recommend that you avoid chiropractors. I have covered back pain in a previous post to help you with this common problem (I am a chronic back pain sufferer myself).
Similar to chiropractors, they believe in stretching and stimulating your muscles (instead of bones vertebrae, and the skeletal system, which the chiropractor focuses on ) to take care of back pain, and other rehabilitation after knee surgeries, etc. That the muscles need to be stretched and put in form is the basis of their therapy. The forced motion they subject you to is less intense than a chiropractor cracking your spine vertebrae, but the problem if not using rest and motionlessness to cure the body remains the same. Their back pain relief argument is stretching muscles in hamstrings and even the ankles. The fools in the university of kinesiologists teach them some rudimentary principles of physics (all muscles are connected, and stretching from one end relieves stress throughout the muscle strands, etc) and apply them to living bodies. The basic principle of resting and leaving the damaged part immobilized is not mentioned at all-obviously not very good for their profession to recommend such things. Nowadays they will stimulate these muscles by temperature shocks, electric and magnetic fields, which is a very risky strategy. The ones who are left handicapped by these pseudo-therapists are posting heavily in online forums. Brute force therapy cannot be good for you, and kinesiologists together with chiropractors are going completely contra this basic common sense principle of recovery of all living beings. Both kinesiologists and chiropractors insist on the value of exercise and motion to keep you healthy or to restore you to good health. The fact that mammals like Tigers, cheetahs, leopards, deer, wild buffalos etc. never exercise and can run much faster and longer than humans is completely ignored. Many of these animals are very lazy-but when need be, they can run and do all kinds of physical activities. In fact, long sleeping hours are necessary for carnivores-lions, tigers and cheetahs spend more than 12 hours a day sleeping and the rest of them just lounging about.
Except for sport injury rehabilitation of young sportsmen (less than 30 years old) I don't see any use of Kinesiology. The elaborate program of several years can be cut down to a few months training, just like that of a physiotherapist.
A profession closely related to Kinesiology is Ergonomist/Ergonomics and posture experts. They have sprouted up to improve posture in workplaces. They will design a special desk with a special chair etc. etc. for you. Normally it is done for back pain relief-and these posture experts will tell you to keep your back upright, and never lean back (completely contrary to mother nature's idea of rest as a solution for back-pain). The will also recommend raising of knees, etc. etc. and all kinds of bullshit theories to improve your productivity. My suggestion to you is to keep these Ergonomics people out of your workplaces; and if you have a worker in back pain, give him a chair which leans back as much as possible, something like 135 Degrees, and let them raise their legs; if they have to work, let them work in the most horizonal position possible, to have the least amount of stress on their injured part, the back. See how to relieve back pain my my post here.
Psychologists and Sociologists
I am an unfortunate co-author of a paper in psychology, so please don't get offended by what I say.
Most of the theories of psychology of behavior etc. are unprovable. Psychologists have an elaborate DSM manual, trying to organize illnesses into categories, and then cures of talking and going over your past, behavior therapy etc. are practiced to treat the patients. The whole thing is a giant play of words-and I doubt that they cure anything serious by their talking cures or their cognitive and behavioral therapies. They are like Geishas and friends for hire at best.
Acupuncture is another farce therapy. The theory that you can insert needles into certain parts of the body to make it better (or pain go away) is foolish. Back pain problems, because they are so common to humanity, are where these specialists make the most money. I have heard of these needles causing punctures in several vital organs, including the heart and lungs. This therapy is more likely to cause harm than good.
Financial analysts (related to the stock market, investments, including real estate)Most of these are clueless about the stock market. Wild theories of asset allocation, index fund returns, etc. are invoked to make you invest in funds X and Y, and grow your nest egg until retirement by Z% with V% volatility. Nassim Taleb covers them well in "Fooled by Randomness"-most of this profession is full of data analysts who extrapolate random noise to see the future, and fail spectacularly in the process. Several win Nobel prizes to make their craft seem scientific-it is not. They are good at Math, which is a wonderful thing-but all the Math is designed to confuse the investor and saver to part with their money. They even invent stuff like Financial Engineering to encroach upon the very useful careers of Engineering (yours truly has two degrees in Engineering).
Marketing and Sales types (Marketing managers, etc)
Marketing types are another breed of fake specialists. Many exist in product design, publicity and market campaigns of consumer products like shampoos, soaps, detergents, razors, beers, wines, etc. They claim to design marketing which touches your conscience. The "feel good" feeling they want to portray through advertisements, they claim, help sales of whatever product they are selling. Most of these marketeers are story-tellers (and they will even accept this!) and their whole goal is to fool the public to buy your products. The problem is that their expertise is extremely doubtful, and a lot of success is by chance alone, rather than skill. The demand for all these products goes up as society becomes richer; and these marketing type people will claim credit whenever they see success. They conveniently blame the failures on other things, bad products, etc. Salespeople who seem to understand what people want better than the people who make the product are another breed of liars. It is much easier for product makers or engineers to learn sales than for salesmen to become product makers or engineers.
Climate scientists, global warming enthusiasts
A large number of these are purely in the game for money. The models of global warming etc. are unprovable, and for some strange reason, global cooling (which was feared in the 1950s in the USA) has gone to global warming in a period of 50 years. The models have not much to do with reality. The conclusions are highly speculative and are designed to cause alarm. I cover these in previous posts. Global warming garbage science post 1 and Global warming garbage science post 2.
Archaeologists and Anthropologists
Another mostly fake profession, they use carbon dating, evolution, and other scientific and technical terms to tell stories which get newspaper attention. They are historians with some science backgrounds; but their main interest in getting public attention (to get more funding, fame, etc.). Whenever you talk about an archaeologist talking about an Egyptian Pharaoh or life in ancient Rome, run from them!Cardiologists
Paleontologists and fossil experts
Fossils are much like cloud patterns; highly subject to interpretation. Patterns in rocks are all what's real; paleontologists add a lot of their imagination to come up with models of dinosaurs and other creatures who roamed the earth millions of years ago. Complicated scientific-like theories of connections between sea and land animals are constructed and proved by fossil experts. Large dinosaur models in science museums are created to wow the public; the models are wild extrapolations from the very small and imprecise fossil patterns which are actually found on the rocks. The dozens of ever changing dinosaur theories have huge entertainment value-but cannot be called serious science.
Experts of parts of the body like cardiologists are dangerous when they overspecialize. They ignore or do not consider the inter-relatedness of the various organs of the body, which can and does lead to disastrous consequences. The whole industry behind angioplasty is false. The original premise, that cholesterol increase heart attacks, is not true. Clogged arteries cured by angioplasty or fancy heart surgeries do not consider the massive redundancies present in the body's arterial and veinous system. The medicines they recommend are largely data from pharmaceutical industry experts and scientists-and whenever I have seen some of these researchers, they are full of bad conclusions/incomplete data sets. Angioplasty is trying to fix a cleaning of the artery gone bad in a very bizarre way of inserting a foreign object. I have covered this in more detail in a previous blog post-but angioplasty seems to violate the basic principles of sound plumbing and fixing the line when there are problems. The only use of cardiologists is to relieve symptoms of pain, not to cure the disease-because their theories of heart attacks, etc. are all flawed. The whole concept of bypass surgeries is strange-people suffer from some pain or loss or breath and are operated upon. A very large number of people who undergo bypass surgeries die or are left worse off than before. The ones who do get better (for unknown reasons, or by chance) are touted as success by these cardiologists. More on angioplasty here.
Neurologists and Neurosurgeons
These specialists are born out of technological advancements in X-ray and MRI imaging. Because they are not engineers-they try to overinterpret and see problems when there aren't any (much like dentists). Neurosurgeons are needed for removal of sharp objects in the skull in accidents, or to remove tumors or growths which are causing pain-but they do not address the underlying problem of the cause of the disease (cancer). Only in accidents and impact injuries should one need to consult with these neurospecialists.
Cancer is a said to be a leading "cause" of death, and it is a small surprise that medicine has created a specialist to meet the demand of the public for this. But the science behind these specialists is flaky. Nixon's declaration of war on cancer in 1971 hasn't got us anyhere in 50 years, and it may be because of what I explain here.
The logical mistake of cancer is confusing correlation with causality. That deaths occur in metastatic cancers is clear-but that does not mean that the cancer is the cause of the death. A large number of people with cancers which metastasize live on for decades. Others die very fast. Cancer seems to be a sympton of some underlying (probably genetic-but may be biochemical, etc.) problem, and that same genetic problem seems to cause organ failure or death of the individual. It would be like blaming wrinkles on death of people-and thinking that wrinkle removal will lead to lower deaths. The very existence of benign tumors and cancers shows that cancer is not causing deaths in many cases-so it is not that bad. The assumption that spreading of the cancer leads to deaths is erroneous. Also, given all the theories of how cancers metastasize (spread around in the body)-through lymph, blood, etc, they do not consider the fact that cells might be mutating independently in organs to give the impression of spreading. In other words, when you find a breast cancer like tumor in the brain, can it be that the brain cells have misfired in their replication and growth, and created cells which look like breast cancer cells? In that sense, it is not spreading; it is the growth of all these tumors independently due to some defective firing mechanism of the cells. To me this is the most probable way that tumors appear, rather than the popular theory of cancerous cells being carried around in the body to cause cancers in other regions. We know that when we have allergies to something-symptoms (e.g. a rash) will appear at different parts of the body simultaneously; but it is not necessary that the rash "spread" internally to cause rashes on other parts! Same with moles, chicken pox, and many other diseases-there need not be a transfer of cells-the islands will sprout up independently, will look all the same, which is what will characterize the disease at the first place. We don't go around looking for how a chicken pox swelling goes from one part of the body to another through lymph nodes, etc. It is the same for cancerous growth! Metastasis is a very questionable way to explain the existence of similar-looking tumors in the body, these tumors develop independently. This is the reason why many times you will not find the primary tumor at all-because it is all independent island type growth, just like the formation of ice when water is frozen. You would think that if it was breast cancer in the brain, the breast would have a tumor-but many times it is not seen there at all. When you ask the cancer experts why that is-they have no good reason. The obvious reason seems to be that the breast (cancer) like cells in the brain are a formation in the brain; and have nothing to do with cells in the breast. It is as if the cells are growing the wrong organ at the designated place-a more believable explanation as someone ages (propensity to defective cell multiplication or errors increases with age) or genetic defects, when it is not happening in old age. Cancer is a symptom of disease; not a cause of disease. This is why when you shrink some tumors with radiotherapy or chemotherapy-you do not cure anything; the tumors appear again in different places, and the patient dies anyway. Metastatic Cancer is just correlating to deaths but not the cause of deaths, you can even argue that removing cancers might hurt you -you are more likely to die if you try to shrink tumors (which might be the body's expression of fight, for example).
Even if we grant that cancer is "spreading" from the original tumor, the cures have their holes. Cancer removal by surgery is to remove symptoms of pain-it never will solve the problem of why there is cancerous growth at the first place. The cancerous cells are misfiring, and no one has proved that the cells in the vicinity go bad because of a cluster of cancerous cells in the vicinity. Models of metastasis and cutting off or doing surgery at the primary tumor do not consider that by the time the primary tumor is seen, other parts the body may already have the primary tumor's cells...cutting the primary tumor now will not help, it might be already too late.
Controlled experiments for cancers in mice etc. are full of bad selection of samples, and conclusions from mice cannot be used easily for humans. The saying that detecting (and removing) a cancer early helps you cure it can't be proved. Cancers will grow in other places even if the early cancerous growth (primary tumor, or other tumors) are removed. Cures like chemotherapy, radiation therapy etc. are full of naysayers-a cursory look on the internet will tell you this. Medicine is not rolling dice with my body-if you can't guarantee with let's say a 90% or higher probability that I will be cured, I do not want to be treated. Not even considering that I might have to pay a lot of money to get the treatment at the first place, which the medics will keep even if I die. The only place where you may get surgery for cancer is if the pain at the local location where there is cancer is too much; then it is symptom relief, and not a "cure" as the oncologists like you to believe, by their flawed theories of spreading and controlling early stage cancers. Until a clear mechanism for metastasis is proven, all cures based in removal of the primary tumor are highly questionable. Every day a new article is published in Cell or Nature or another "scientific journal" to inform us about a new mechanism for metastasis of cancer cells. That itself is proof enough to keep away from at least a surgical treatment by oncologists.
In this sense, the appearance of cancer is like wrinkles. An observer can see clearly that wrinkles are correlated to death (most people who die have wrinkles); but can falsely conclude that removing wrinkles will remove deaths. Imagine the thousands of wrinkle removing cream manufacturers (they don't even remove wrinkles, by the way) touting the benefit of postponing death by removing wrinkles; that's what curing cancer to reduce deaths is. The presence of benign cancers, or cancers which grow and spread, but then don't do it anymore, is enough to prove that worrying about cancer in itself will not solve the problem of deaths which are correlated with cancer.
Another example to understand this, consider the appearance of grey hair. We know that grey hair correlates well with death (most people who die have grey hair). But it would be foolish to think that removing the grey hair, or coloring them, will somehow prevent the person from dying! Cancer in that sense is nothing more than graying of the hair-it is an offshoot of some bad problem in the system (probably due to aging of cells, as I have said above) but doesn't actually CAUSE death. Removing cancer does not prevent the person from dying, just as removing or coloring their grey hair is not going to decrease their chances of dying. An ET (extra terrestrial) sometimes can tell you better about life than humans who try to see causality everywhere; for an ET, there is not difference between graying of hair, cancer and wrinkes; they are all symptoms of death to the ET, that's all. Causality is a difficult thing to prove, and with cancer, it seems like the whole industry is way off the mark, unless there is some specific circumstances where the outgrowth of cancer cells actually is resulting in organ failure (e.g. pressing of an artery, etc). But those cases are rare; and even something like lung cancer, a fairly common type of cancer (and I have personally known people who have died from it, and watched their cancer's development), is not causing catastrophic lung failure it seems. Removing cancerous tumors for lung cancer does not prolong the life of the patient. It can be done to remove the pain (if they are suffering from pain), but is really nothing more than removing their grey hair in terms of the health benefit.
The real problem to solve is the death due to aging. It is aging of the body which is causing wrinkles and cancers; and the true problem is to prevent cells from aging, or help in their regeneration, etc...which will automatically take care of cancer.
On tumors, early detection, especially of breast cancer tumors, is said to help in survival, because those cancers can be removed quickly. Based on the arguments presented above, it should be clear that this is an invalid claim. Removing the tumors in one area does not affect their probability of arising in another area. The same tumor growing also doesn't mean that the person will die. It may be uncomfortable and painful to live with a tumor, but it in itself doesn't lead to death or "complications"-the word "complications" being used everywhere in medicine to scare people.
In summary, oncology as a specialization of medicine sounds like a demand based creation-people wanted and were willing to pay for a specialist, and sure enough, the market obliged. When there is market for a product, the product will come about. And oncology is probably 95% lies and 5% truth.
Surgeons removing Vermiform Appendix
There seems to be a general consensus in the medical community that the vermiform appendix is a vestigial organ. Given that the organ is there in all humans (and probably other animals) I highly doubt that it is useless; we just do not know enough about its use. On a painful episode, the surgeons remove the organ; saying that it is infected with some bacteria and removing it is the best option. Why not give a good dose of antibiotics??? The real cause is bacterial infections, and the pain goes away with a good dose of antibiotics, as studies and logic would lead you. Here is some more on this. The fear that the appendix will burst and cause secondary infections and "complications" is also unfounded, and a few days of antibiotics treatment should be the first course. If the patient continues with the pain, a surgery can be conducted; but the way it is done right now is clearly wrong to me.
The article linked above mentions: "Fifty years ago, removal of the tonsils was routine and thousands of children went under the surgeon's knife in a misguided attempt to protect them from tonsillitis – a sore throat that could develop into a fatal infection." This surgery is no longer done. Appendix removal surgery is headed the same way (I hope).
The medical community, instead of accepting that they may not (yet) know the use of this organ, declare that it is useless. Evolution and structure of organisms is highly optimized with little wastage of resources; I highly doubt there are any vestigial organs. It is out limited understanding of how the organism works, where we don't know what an organ or a structure is doing, rather than the uselessness of the organ.
Nutritionists and Dietitians
This is another fake group of experts. The so called science of nutrition varies considerably depending on the country you live in (food habits of humans vary a lot over the world). Even stuff like multivitamins for adults is questionable. Taste as an indicator of what the body really needs is completed ignored by all these experts. When I can't decide what is good for me, I trust my natural instinct of what I find tasty at that moment to purchase my groceries. Taste has an interesting property-after you have had your share of carrots or ice-cream or whatever else you wanted to eat tonight, you don't eat it anymore. This shows clearly that the body is naturally needing some ingredients in these foods, and once those ingredients are supplied, the body is satisfied, and doesn't want to eat more of the same stuff anymore. Taste to my mind is a natural indicator of what one's body biologically needs right now-and none of these pseudo-experts takes this into account. On the contrary, what is tasty is almost always said to be bad for you...probably from our fear of our own senses and enjoyments (basis of all religion). Instead of the hedonist, everyone likes the person who avoids and spurns pleasure. This was covered well by Smith (what wasn't!). We seem to respect people who flagellate themselves, and don't like indulgence or hedonistic tendencies. It is not a bad thing for many things-but for foods, I think trusting your biological taste buds is much better than trusting nutritionists and dietitians.
For weight loss, the number of experts is amazing-from potion selling herbalife to protein only diets, everyone has a way to make everyone else lose weight. There is little science in these professionals.
Warren Buffet is a great indicator of what's wrong with the whole "science" behind nutrition. He drink loads of coca cola, and eats ice cream, snacks etc...all (wrongly) labeled junk food. Here's what he says about a healthy diet (I am pretty much the same-I only trust what is tasty, and completely ignore what nutritionists etc. say, and have no health problems).
As you will notice, a lot of these fake professions are in health-care. There has been massive overspecialization in health care -in 1840 there were no specialists in medicine. I don't believe that our understanding of human bodies has taken such a quantum leap in 150 years. But the liars in medicine have been able to convince the public by their slick science-like marketing that they know something special. They are losing the big picture-and keep insisting in being experts in treating areas of the body like teeth, the heart or cancers. If this continues, in a 100 years we will have a specialist for the right thumb, and another one for the left thumb. The point is-unless it is very clear that the problems are not related, one should not promote specialization at the first place. Independent or weakly correlated disciplines call for specializations-think of Physics and Learning Spanish, or Computer Science and Cooking. Whenever there is overlap, it is good not to specialize. Most of Physics at the higher levels is extremely Mathematical-which is why it is impossible to become a good Physicist without being an excellent Mathematician. Most of Engineering education is the same courses, based on Physics and Math really; the specialization is thrown-in in the later years; and most of the learning is on-the-job for Engineering. Specialization in medicine is really harmful-because most body parts and functions are highly correlated. The medical industry is full of fools and charlatans, who do not understand math and statistics and difference between correlation and causality that well, and the ones who do keep quiet because there is too much money at stake. The result is all these specialists who add no value to human health-and in actuality hurt more than help us.
Universal tests for calling out bullshit
The pseudo-professionals here always give the argument that I am just an Electrical Engineer-what would I know about kinesiology or oncology, that I need to study it more before jumping on to conclusions, etc. The same argument is used by religious people and astrologers. Here are three tests:
1. No guarantees: Neither Cardiologists nor oncologists, and much less the other professionals mentioned here, take any guarantee that I will be cured. In fact, they make me sign a document that even if I die, I can't sue them, that there is risk in this etc. etc. You would think that if they were more confident about their knowledge, they would give me a money back guarantee at least, if not a guarantee for the cure. They legally avoid both.
2. Subjectivity: The opinions and therapies vary within the group considerably. That's why one has to go for 2nd and 3rd opinions in cancer. One recommends surgery-other recommends chemotherapy, etc. etc. They can't agree amongst themselves what the best treatment is. How can I trust this profession?
3. Varies around the globe: The practice and it's cure vary widely depending on the country you are in. Dentists in one country recommend root canals for everything. In another country they are recommending you take good care of milk teeth of children because that will cause problems later on when the fixed teeth sprout. All kinds of theories and meta-theories are published, and people are experimented upon. The pain and suffering of the people is real-but the cure by these people are largely hand-waving and experimentalist. A practice which changes from country to country cannot be trusted. Compare this to Electrical Engineering or Chemistry or Math-which remain the same whether you are in South Korea, Chile or Canada. One is hard science, the other is experimental science. I don't want to be the guinea pig for these therapists, and worse still, have to pay for the experiment from my pocket!
These three tests have served me well to call out a lot of bullshit in life.
Not all of medicine is bad, but many branches are like blood letting in 1800 AD
There are a large number of medical profession which are wonderful and useful for humanity. An injury in an accident which results in an open wound will be stitched together by a surgeon. Or if by accident you get a sharp object inserted in your body; removal of that object with minimum damage is an extraordinary skill, and we need great surgeons for it. That is a great use of medicine-it is obvious, clear and there isn't much "hidden high tech science" behind it. The wonders of vaccinating children and how that really takes away infant and child mortality I have seen with my own eyes. a General Practictioner has a lot of good tools at her disposal to take care of minor things-minor infections, coughs, colds, etc. are the popular ones.
Taking care of physical damage to the body due to an accident is probably the most useful part of medicine. The profession of surgery was started by barbers; and good skill with the knife (to take out a sharp object from the body, a splinter, a bullet, etc) is a very wonderful ability to have. Same with sewing up a gash or wound-there are lots of technologies to make the process easier and less painful for the patient.
My point in this post is to show you the problems in the few (normally called "cutting edge") areas where it is clear that medics don't have a clue. But overall, medicine remains a very useful specialization to develop for humanity-but the progress needs to be slow and measured, never fast and innovative-these buzzwords are not for medicine or serious medics. Treating live animals (humans) is a hard thing, much harder than making aeroplanes or internet websites (the job of engineers like me), and it should be done with care-accumulating sure progress, discarding the negative therapies and uses, to make medicine really take the form of engineering the human body-like repairing a car. Right now there is a lot of pretense to look at the body like a car-but I am afraid a lot of procedures done by medicine are not thorough. The lesson is to avoid cutting edge, not obvious therapies and cures; go for the small, sure therapies and cures which have survived 30 or 50 years of testing. I think in 50 years dentists might be doing something entirely different from what they are doing now...and I hope that the profession actually dies in the next 50 years, just like blood-letting did in 1840.
Most of these professions mentioned above-kinesiology, chiropractice, dentistry are what blood letting was in 1800. They have elaborate 3-5 year programs of getting "degrees" so you look like a professional; all they are is a training in practices which don't work in real life (exactly like blood letting). But the young students in them don't know any better; the marketing of the establishment (the ones who already have these useless degrees) makes hordes of new, young people join these departments in the hope of getting rich, rarely do they join these professions nowadays to serve humanity (as it should be). The end result is that these kids have spend 5 years of their valuable life learning something which is of little value. In 2200AD, humanity will look at these practices just as shockingly as we look at blood letting. When you are doing something foolish in the present, it is very hard to realize it. Religion obviously is another big one there. But Religion was replaced by blood letting, which was replaced by these professions mentioned above-I guess the game of pseudo-professions goes on. Our only hope is that over time (think centuries, not decades) we get rid of the useless professions faster than giving birth to new ones.