Monday, 24 September 2012

What skepticism means to me

Hi all,

Welcome to my new humble little blog about skepticism. It's going to be mainly based on healthcare because, as a pharmacist, that's what I come across the most in daily life, but there may well be the odd few other bits and pieces that creep in also.

So about me:
My friends call me Simple Dog, because I'm generally useless at life, in particular electrical items and computers confuse me. I'm easily distracted by pretty coloured things, sparkly things, cake and other baked goods, and have a tendency to make high pitched noises when I get excitable about something.

I started off my professional life as a hospital pharmacy pre-reg. I then worked in community pharmacy for a good few years, in a supermarket pharmacy then an independent chain. I now work in medicines information, but still do regular locums around about.

During my time in community, I used to regularly sell things that i had no idea about, or that i knew had very little if any benefit. I used to tell patients this, but on many occasions they would go ahead and buy it anyway. I'll even admit here to ordering homeopathic products to fill the shelves of a pharmacy I managed. At the time, I vaguely knew it was a load of old tosh, but didnt have the time or the inclination to bother doing anything about it.

This job in Medicines Information has opened my eyes a hell of a lot. I started having a poke about on various different skeptical blogs. The Miracle Mineral Solution Saga and the Burzynski Hoohah piqued my interest further.  And when my good friend and Helper Dog Nancy suggested we go to something called Skeptics In The Pub, I was hooked. The nerdy part of my loves learning new stuff, and I'm a proper beer drinker, so combine the two and I'm a happy girl. I find myself thinking about a whole load of things that I would never have bothered devoting any time to before, and I think I'm much better off for it. I've also met some wonderful new people.

Something I've noticed from all this skeptical activity is that I'm now able to do my job much better. I used to think I was rubbish at critical appraisal, which is a very dry subject that always really bored me. However, put it into the context of woo and quackery and I've found its much easier to grasp. I'm hoping to use this knowledge to try and promote skeptical ideas and critical thinking to pharmacists. At the moment I have a few vague ideas floating around my head.

Skeptics get a bad rap in a lot of cases. It seems that believers (in whatever area it may be) are ready and eager to just dismiss them out of hand. But I believe (There's that word again) that a healthy dose of skepticism can only do good. Either it strengthens a cause if the belief is proved right, or it can be used to change beliefs to something more evidence-based and worthwhile.

This is my little contribution.

H xxx