January 29, 2018
456 Cognitive Dissonance [29 January 2018]
An article on the Vitamin D Council’s website inspired this column. It begins with two quotes. “All progress requires change; those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” (George Bernard Shaw) and “Science progresses one funeral at a time” (Max Planck).
Cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort or psychological stress occurring when new information conflicts with long held beliefs. To relieve the tension people usually reject or ignore the new information in favor of the original belief.
The article’s author, founder and current medical director of the Vitamin D Council, John Cannell, is expressing his frustration at the lag time for medical discoveries to be put into the practice of saving lives. Specifically he mentions Vitamin D as a treatment for preeclampsia of pregnancy and autism. There are more than one hundred peer-reviewed published studies showing the effectiveness (and safety) of vitamin D for each of these two conditions (and many more) which are being ignored by the medical industry. Almost without exception these studies end with a call for more and larger studies before making any recommendations. This is especially true for pregnancy. But how much grant money and how many dead women are required? Are the 46,000 deaths from preeclampsia in 2015 not enough?
We know from many studies that optimum vitamin D levels in pregnant mothers reduce the risk of their baby developing autism. Why aren’t all pregnant women tested for vitamin D in their first trimester and supplemented when indicated to bring their levels up? There is no risk in doing so and a terrible risk in not.
Cannell blames the lag time on cognitive dissonance. Those in the medical industry responsible for developing and carrying out treatment protocols can’t fit the growing pile of new information on natural health products with what they have been taught to believe, so they ignore it. And all we can do is wait for their funerals.
The notion that natural health products are somehow “unscientific” makes it easier to ignore them. Why synthetic chemicals should be considered more scientific than vitamins and minerals is perplexing. The problem as I see it is not that they are “natural” but rather that they are not patentable. Without the profit from patent protection few corporations are willing to cover the cost of getting these products approved. I see a strong role here for governments and charities to fund the necessary research, since it is the people, and governments paying for health care, who will benefit from safer, more effective, and less expensive treatments.
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.