Monday, May 24, 2010

The Most and Least Trusted Professionals

A survey found that the least trusted profession is--no surprise--politician, followed by salesperson (especially car salespersons) financial services "account executives,") and lawyers.

I'd add these to the list:
  • clergy. Whether or not they're seducing underage parishioners, they're selling snake oil--trying to convince people to place faith in a God who allows billions of people, including newborn babies to die of agonizing diseases such as cancer.
  • chiropractors. Studies not funded by the chiropractic industry show generally low efficacy yet chiropractors market themselves relentlessly, often beyond what they can responsibly claim to cure. The only area that NIH studies find chiropractors helpful for is lower back pain and even there, no more efficacy than treatment by a physician.
  • journalists. I have the most disdain for that profession because it has so much power to change society and uses that power so irresponsibly. Although most journalists have experience at nothing other than writing, they have the hubris to believe they know what's best for the world and are so sure of it that they abandon their nearly sacred obligation to present issues in full dimension, fairly, and instead, manipulate readers into believing what they believe and censor or destroy those who dare disagree. Instead of being wise stewards of the marketplace of ideas, they are the Barbarians at its gate.
The professionals I most trust:
  • Librarians. I find them trustworthy and helpful. (Of course, they have little incentive to be untrustworthy.)
  • Nurse practitioners and salaried physicians (e.g., those employed by Kaiser). Too many physicians who are paid per patient and per procedure are tempted by financial reward to prescribe treatments that yield them more money, even when not necessarily in the patient's best interests. And because physicians' training is so long, hard, and expensive, they feel entitled.
  • Philosophers. I think the world would be better run if led by an ideologically diverse tribunal of philosophers.


Anonymous said...

Amen on the chiropractors! I used to be one and one of the reasons I got out was the ethical problems with the profession.

Chiropractors have a financial incentive to keep their patients coming back again and again and again. Many patients are asymptomatic but the chiropractor has scared them into "maintenance care", a concept which has NO scientific justification.

The main problem, as you said, is that chiropractic has no evidence that it is more effective than standard medical care for ANYTHING, even back pain. So why go to a pseudo-doctor who might misdiagnose you when you can just go to a real doctor?

I also would like to mention that I owe over $200,000 in student loans for the privilege of becoming an ex-chiropractic quack. This is definitely a profession -- and career -- to completely avoid.

Anonymous said...

Clergy is a mixed bag. Yes the Roman Catholics are guilty of maintaining a climate of pedophilism and most other religions work to the detriment of their congregants because they encourage magical thinking or false ideas of spirituality. However it would be wrong to completely dismiss it because of the research showing the reality of the soul and intelligent design of God. The only religion I put any energy and stock in is Unity Church. They do exactly this and are a Church that many people who hate traditional religion find an important light in their lives. You can read about them here.

Anonymous said...

Comments re snake-oil clergy - I, too, am appalled by the suffering of innocents - on the other hand, what does an aetheist offer these same suffering people? Whenever you see people without some form of higher power giving authority to doing good - it inevitably winds up in extreme brutality. So, I wouldn't be so quick cast clergy (of any religious color) as snake-oil-salemen.

Which leads me to the point about trusting philosophers - give your head a shake. Whose philosophy? What is the definition of good? Who makes the rules when it doesn't suit you? Skinner tried to incorporate a behavioristic approach to community living in the 70s with communes based on logic - the vast majority failed miserably. The only philosophers I would trust would have to be ones whose values I trusted as well - where are those values going to come from? Scratch deep enough and it will be from the snake-oil salesmen.

CC said...

Thank you for placing chiropractors on your list of least trusted professions.

As an ex-chiropractor with 7 years of field experience, I would say overall, you are correct. Unless the practice is heavily subsidized by insurance (Personal Injury - car accident cases) you must stretch the truth in order to put food on the table and a roof over your head.

The chiropractor profession is only growing in the number of problems it has. Most of which have no solution. The only true solutions are: 1. Eliminate 60% of the schools and 2. Prevent the next generation of kids from getting into $150,000 plus of federal loan school me.

Your post has be re-posted in Chirotalk. Cut and paste the link below to see it (page 2):

Thank you.

Expect heat from the die-hard non-pragmatists.

Anonymous said...

You have the most disdain for the journalism profession? If so, why are you always striving to be part of this field? As for clergy, you rated that field as an excellent career choice. (See link.)

Anonymous said...

I don't know there is a god. But you don't know there isn't one. I'd suggest sticking to pontificating on things you can provide proof of, or at least a rational argument for. You sound like an angry teenager with the "if there is a god, how come babies suffer?" argument. I don't know why babies suffer if there's a god. But then maybe that's above our pay grade.

And "snake oil" is sold by those who know it doesn't work. A person who sincerely believes it to be true (deluded or not) is not selling snake oil. You should be more careful before you disparage people by virtually calling them criminals.

Judging religious types by Jimmy Swaggert's of the world would be about as fair as saying you're full of shit because many other bloggers are.

Marty Nemko said...

Most recent Anonymous, in the absence of proof, one makes judgments based on probabilities. The odds there is an all-seeing all-knowing God who created the earth--God's handiwork--is tiny.

Marty Nemko said...

To the Anonymous Person insisting that research shows the existence of a soul and Intelligent Design. There is no such research that a reasonable scientist would declare as valid.

Marty Nemko said...

To the Anonymous Person insisting that research shows the existence of a soul and Intelligent Design. There is no such research that a reasonable scientist would declare as valid.

Marty Nemko said...

I'd certainly rather trust an ideologically diverse group of philosophers, whose purpose is to bring about wisdom within humankind than a group of clerics, all of whom are selling the myth of some supernatural all-knowing, all-loving God, who happens to allow billions of people to die of agonizing diseases.

Marty Nemko said...

I disdain journalism as practiced. As it should, I think it is among the most honorable and enjoyable professionals.

Re the clergy, while there is no God, most people need to believe there is one. The clergy helps sell it. Also, it's a career of unmitigated do-gooding: caring for the ill, counseling people, etc. And clergy generally love their careers, which was a key factor in selecting is as a top career choice.

Anonymous said...

In regards to the journalists, please do not think they have carte blanche to write and broadcast whatever they desire. It’s very seldom that the business side does not have a say in what is published or broadcast. (Either directly or indirectly.) Even when William Paley owned CBS news, the so-called indivisible wall between the editorial and business side was a myth. Paley helped oust the vaunted Edward R. Murrow. Those of us who wanted to practice it “our way” were unable to do so. Like anything else, it’s a business.

Marty Nemko said...

As someone who has written a lot for corporate-owned media: San Francisco Chronicle (Hearst) LA Times (Tribune Media Syndicate), US News & World Report, I have never once seen a violation of the firewall. In fact, the editorial side seems especially eager to write anti-corporate stuff.

Anonymous said...

EDITORIAL side yes, but the newsroom is a different story. You have not experienced the "joys" of being a lowly street reporter. You would have a better feel if you worked in small and medium markets as reporter (not a columnist) in markets throughout the country.

Anonymous said...

I should clarify that when I use the word editorial, I mean the newsroom.(i.e., reporters not editorial writers)

Anonymous said...

Marty - I enjoy your blog. You might find this hard to believe, but as a Christian I find myself a kindred spirit. However, let me make three points.

1. Martin Luther notes, "The question is not whether man will worship or not, but rather at what altar he would worship." Like it or not, human beings are inherently spiritual. We all yearn to be committed to and serve something bigger than ourselves. I remember seeing this so clearly years ago while watching Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" series. His belief in science as the ultimate arbiter of meaning in life led him make science into his religious calling. Ultimately, he was religiously speaking, a pantheist. While the critique of Christianity and its political-cultural offspring Christendom offers many sad tales, modern atheism's horrors seem far worse. The 20th century was a "golden" age of experiments in atheistic, humanistic governments. These governments ruthlessly killed far more people than the total of all people killed in religious wars in all preceding history. Religion was illegal or almost completely marginalized in these societies. Yet these societies were extremely inhumane, oppressive, lacking creativity, and economically unproductive. In short order, the leaders of these societies filled the religious void by making the State its god. America is stronger by having a mix of vibrant world views. Theocracy would be a bad thing for America, but so would a thoroughly secular, atheistic state.

2. The Christian Worldview has a long and treasured philosophical history over 2,000 years that has engaged some of the greatest minds of all time. Frankly, your argument that Christianity is some kind of intellectual light weight just doesn't hold historical water. Modern science got its great jump start through scientists who operated with the assumption that the material world must have a design reflecting the Great Designer. I also feel much more secure in the idea that our basic human rights are inalienable gifts from God rather than gifts of government, or philosopher-kings, or a happy coincidence of evolution.

3. So many people have a positive view of the clergy because (1) of their experience with clergy who helped them during big crises in their lives; (2) of the fact that ministers by and large are a low paying profession (people know by experience that ministers and their families sacrifice a great deal to enter this vocation); (3) of the comfort faith provides when facing the inequities, calamities, and injustices of life. I'll trade the integrity of the small church pastor over the scientist working for universities in bed with corporate interests every time.

Sparkling Crystal Statue said...

Marty: Your comments about God remind me of something I have noticed about creation, something I have called "gestalt-a-lution."

The concept is that larger gestalts are formed from smaller gestalts, in a progression, but that it is all-but-impossible to see what those larger gestalts will be ahead of time.

Here's an example of how gestalt-a-lution works: Take an electron. The electron is part of an atom; atoms are parts of molecules, which are parts of, say, a human liver cell or a cell of another other human organ. Each organ is part of a human body. These human bodies assemble themselves into tribes, cities and other organizations. These organizations interconnect and form larger organizations, such as the internet.

Another example: Earth is part of the solar system; solar systems are parts of galaxies...etc., etc.

In this progression from small and "particulate," to large and subsuming, each step is very hard to infer from the previous step. For example, it is damn near impossible to infer the existence of a liver from the molecules which comprise it. Human bodies are very difficult to infer from a liver, (unless you have creatures similar to human beings to gain insight from). The social transformativeness of the internet was pretty much not foreseen by its founders. All of these things seem obvious only in hindsight, through reverse engineering.

This is sort of like evolution, except it is a process of gestalts being formed from previous smaller-scale gestalts. Ergo, "gestalt-a-lution."

I noticed the process of gestalt-a-lution when contemplating atheism. It occurred to me that creation is made up of gestalt-a-lutionary processes, where constructs subsume constructs, which are in turn subsumed by larger constructs, on and on. So, why wouldn't that apply to the human mind? Why is there not a larger mind or governing awareness or process that subsumes our human "cell" minds? Why is the human mind necessarily exempt from the process of gestalt-a-lution? To me, the burden of proof is on the atheists to show why this isn't so.

Gestalt-a-lution would suggest that it is very hard to infer what that larger subsuming awareness would be, only that it is is quite likely to exist. It seems to me to be a low-probability hypothesis to posit that there is not a larger awareness subsuming human awareness.

I suspect that the religious or spiritual impulse so often observed in mankind is not merely a fanciful construct that gives an evolutionary advantage. I suspect that the religious impulse has some basis in reality.

Marty Nemko said...

Clearly there is a process/entity we do not understand. That's an enormous distance from there being a God we should pray to.

Anonymous said...

1. Chiropractic relieves pain for me. So does massage therapy, but that is not covered on the health plan. I go anyway sometimes. I've never obtained pain relief from an MD.

Anonymous said...

Funny you should mention philosophers...NPR had a story the other day on a college in New York (City?) that has a huge and growing demand/attendance in their philosophy dept. Kewel!


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