The epidemic of the “I Know All” expert | Mikhail (Doctor Mike) Varshavski | TEDxMonteCarlo
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The epidemic of the “I Know All” expert | Mikhail (Doctor Mike) Varshavski | TEDxMonteCarlo

Translator: Thành H. Châu
Reviewer: Leonardo Silva You wake up. Before you even grab your cell phone, you say, “Today is the day. Today is the day
that I’m going to be proactive. I’m going to take control of my life. I’m going to go see the doctor. I’m going to get healthy.” So you sacrifice a day off work, you sit in one-hour standstill traffic, you even wait 30 minutes
in the office to see the doctor. Finally the doctor walks in, and all of that built-up
anxiety begins to fade. In the midst of your conversation, you ask the doctor a few questions, “Doctor, what’s the healthiest diet?” You get back, “I don’t know.” You say: “Okay, doctor.
You say I have a respiratory virus. Which virus is it?” Again, you get, “I don’t know.” Your mind begins to wonder whether or not this doctor
was properly educated. Finally, you ask, “Doctor, what is the reason
that the rate of autism is increasing?” You hear, “I don’t know,”
and your frustration hits a peak. Let’s stop this hypothetical for a second. I’m going to explain to you right now
why you need not be frustrated, and instead celebrate those who are not
afraid to say, “I don’t know.” The theme of this conference
is “License To Know.” But hopefully after this talk, you’ll be proud to say that you have
a license to say, “I don’t know.” My name is Doctor Mikhail Varshavski. Like it was mentioned earlier,
most know me as Doctor Mike. I’m an actively practicing
family medicine physician out of Overlook Medical Center
in the United States. I also happen to be the most
followed doctor on social media, with 3.5 millions subscribers. This gives me unique vantage point to witness an epidemic
within the healthcare space that receives so little attention, and that’s the epidemic of IKA, the epidemic of the “I Know All” expert. There are too many
of these experts out there, claiming to have all of the answers when the rest of the scientific
community has questions. Now, this may surprise you. But you and I are both
partially, if not more so, to blame for this epidemic. When someone says to us
they don’t know, we’re quick to judge,
we’re quick to dismiss. And in even a less cognizant way,
we support them with our clicks. We click on the catchy headlines, we click and purchase
those miracle cure-all products. Within medicine, there are two specific situations
where these IKA experts flourish. The first is the gray zone. That is when a question
within the field of medicine has not yet had a complete answer
by modern science. Take the increased rate of autism. You ask an honest, up-to-date doctor,
they’ll tell you, “We don’t know.” Now, you ask an IKA expert,
they’ll throw you a theory, and they’ll do it
in a very convincing fashion, so much so that they might even further
their career in one way or another. That’s the problem with these IKA experts. The second way that they do this is they do it in moments
where good medicine has proved that tangible positive effect
is only achieved through hard work and dedication. Take diet, take exercise, take sleep. The way to improve all of these things
is through hard work. But the IKA expert
will give you a shortcut. And I’m sure many of you here today
have heard of these shortcuts. Take, for instance, the shortcut
of the miracle weight-loss diet known as the cookie diet. Or better yet, the miracle detox plan that will detoxify your body
through a juice cleanse, will boost your immune system. How do these IKA experts cause you to ignore legitimate
scientific evidence and advice and listen to their theories? They do so through stress. When your mind is stressed,
your mind is very easily influenced. There’s a great book called
The Influential Mind. And there was a great example
from this book I’d like to share with you. Take September 11th, 2001,
in New York City, one of the worst
terrorist attacks of all time. The day after those terrorist attacks, distress in New York City
has an all-time high. It takes only one person to run and scream
to get hundreds to do the same. Now, if you take that same person
one day prior to the terrorist attacks, what will you get? You’ll get a lot of New Yorkers
looking at this person running and saying, “Ah, just another crazy New Yorker.” Your mind does not respond well to stress. As a survival mechanism, your mind uses stress as a way
to be influenced by the majority. So what these IKA experts do is they throw around words
like “cancer,” “disease,” “death,” even get your family involved at times. And that’s how they get you. Now, because of my social media fame, I find myself at a very
interesting crossroads between marketing and medicine. A marketer’s job is to sell product
or to push a brand, and they do so by studying
your human psyche to figure out the best way
to accomplish that. They often pair celebrities with products
in order to get better results, because they know that when you hear
advice from a familiar face, they’ll sell more products. I’m going to be honest
with you here today. I’ve received some of these offers
in near seven-figure totals to support the IKA products. Me! Imagine what a true celebrity gets
if I’m being offered these deals. Forget that. Imagine what these companies
make from IKA products that they’re able to pay
these huge sums of money. Look, I get it. We live in a fast-paced world. We want quick answers
and even faster results. But before you go on this desperate search
for answers and shortcuts, let’s talk about what a true expert is. A true expert not only looks at the current, most up-to-date
scientific evidence, but also looks at history as a guide. How many times have you heard
doctors go back and forth on the health benefits
and risks of coffee, something we all drink every day? In 1981, the New York Times
published a study that said two cups of coffee
increase the risk of pancreatic cancer. In 2017, we claimed
that coffee extends your life. Doctors used to advocate smoking
as a stress reliever. We used to believe that bloodletting,
a.k.a letting a patient bleed out, was a way to cure an infection. This doesn’t mean
that doctors are not smart. What this means is that expert opinion is and should be
considered the lowest form of evidence. That is what our job as a true expert is:
to explain that to the general population. Take any PhD in this room
and they’ll all tell you the same thing. The more years they’ve spent
studying a subject, the more they realize they don’t know, the more questions you have, because they more questions you have, that’s the sign of intelligence. Now, look, this isn’t just
a theoretical discussion, where we’re going to talk
about philosophical change and things of that nature. I’m going to have some
practical tips for you as well. Number 1: ask better questions. A doctor prescribes a treatment
or tells you not to go for a treatment. Ask, “Hey, doc, why do I need
these antibiotics? Do I even need these antibiotics?” When an IKA expert claims there’s
a miracle cure for whatever ails you, ask how is it possible that there are
millions of doctors across the world, whose sole mission,
and it’s the same mission, to eradicate diseases
and restore optimal health, don’t agree with them. Why is it the same five IKA experts
you see appearing in documentaries, talking about doom and gloom
from all the things that ail you. Second: understand basic research. Oftentimes these IKA experts
will tout a single study, and try and convince you
of their theories. Take the recent uproar of autism
and childhood immunizations. This uproar started from a single study, with 12 subjects, which was done by a doctor who’s been discredited
and lost their license. And yet, children are dying. So it’s your job to be
aware of this research. And here I’ll tell you how to do that. Know that the best form of research
is a metaanalysis. It’s a combination
of studies, not just one, which allows for the decreased likelihood
of chance and bias within the results. Note that newer studies are not
necessarily better than older studies. Know that studies
that focus on disease markers are not nearly as good as studies
that focus on outcomes and developments of disease. And no matter what media tells you
is a breakthrough, there is no single study that will influence
the field of medicine enough to change the standard of care. It can guide us, it can put itself into the context
of the entire body of evidence. to allow us to figure out what the true results are
and what they mean. And lastly, third: do not write off health professionals
who say “I don’t know.” Instead, what you should infer
is that this doctor is self-aware, this doctor acknowledges
scientific limitations. And most importantly, this doctor is not interested
in slimming your wallet. Let’s move away from the era
of juice cleanses, and move to an era we judge doctors
not by the answers, but by the quality of their questions. Do not be afraid to say, “I don’t know.” Thank you. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “The epidemic of the “I Know All” expert | Mikhail (Doctor Mike) Varshavski | TEDxMonteCarlo

  1. He didn’t say “beewoop” this speech is unwatchable

    Jk I love doctor mike’ videos, and this is great

  2. Doctor Mike, what is your thoughts on fasting? And don't you say I don't know lol it's been studied for decades.

  3. Guys please listen to what he says and stop taking the emphasis away from what he is saying by repeatedly pointing out how good looking he is. Yes he is fine but he is also saying something many people need to understand so let's please pretty please focus on that

  4. I’ve never gotten a doctor like what he described. All my doctors “know” what’s wrong, “treat” or test me, tell me I should be fine, and then I’m not any better

  5. Diet, exercise and mental illness are all so complicated, there are so many different factors to consider and nobody can just give you a straight answer. There is no "best diet" or "best exercise regiment" or a way to prevent mental illness or autism because there are so many circumstances that you need to consider. Lying by saying that you do know all, that you have the ultimate cure, is intellectually dishonest and needs to stop.

  6. I like to say, "I don't know, but I will". Because I genuinely mean that I will find out. Because I don't have all the answers but I do have the drive to find the answer.

  7. “There’s no royal road to science but if you are willing to climb its steep paths,” you will not get to the top but you’ll see how far you can get from the bottom (yea I forgot the quote, but you guys see how much of this message he’s getting through to us?)

  8. A lot of medical conditions have the word 'idiopathic' in the name (Meaning "I Don't Know what causes it"), simply because science hasn't figured out why they happen, only able to figure out how to treat them symptomatically. Though if your doctor like my last GP back in England who doesn't know how to manually take your blood pressure correctly (or smart enough to know that an impossible value means you f***ed it up), those you don't listen to.

  9. -Doctor, what are the reasons for autism?
    – Well, we don't know for sure.
    – Could vaccines have anything to do with it?
    – Oh no, vaccines have nothing to do autism.
    – But didn't you just say you didn't know?
    – :-/

  10. Thank you Dr. Mike. As a young person who has multiple autoimmune diseases, has always questioned overly cocky doctors/surgeons and has always done their own research, hearing this made me feel a lot more just in my actions.

  11. Honestly I really love this especially because he recognizes that he doesn’t know everything. When he gets a question he doesn’t know he’ll look it up. Rather then trying to give some incomplete, ill informed answer he admits it. And in his field there’s a lot of pressure to do this, so props to him. I also love this because the people who will admit that they don’t know are also the ones who will chase the answer. Not just search it up and answer it with the first result, but the ones who put days or weeks into their research. The ones who meticulously think out there answer and make sure that to the best of their ability it is correct. We need more of these I don’t know people because they make the world better.

  12. Wow i like his suit soooo much. The fit is a little bit to tight but it's ok. The peak lapel, the tie and tie bar, the pocket square…. just awsome.

  13. When I was in the military, saying "I don't know" to a supervisor or inspector was unacceptable. We learned that what was acceptable was "I am not sure, but I will find you the answer". All people want to know is you care about the issue and are willing/dedicated enough to follow through.

  14. it's in the Hippocratic Oath that you swear to as a doctor nowadays that you musn't be afraid to say ''I dont know'' rather than giving your patients bad information.

  15. I have a Ph.D. and I feel like a total fraud at times because there is so much I don't know that I wish I knew. I spend about eight hours a day studying various subjects ranging from art to zoology in an effort to learn as much as I can about this world. I spend another eight hours trying to apply what I've learned. I have been doing this for decades yet I still feel like I know almost nothing because technology keeps changing the questions as well as the answers.

  16. This guy keeps it real, eats junk food and watches his calories. My doctor also eats junk foods , diet soda , and smokes. I laugh at him when he tells me to eat more vegetables. I just say whatever , now starting to smoke for the health benefits. Smoking increases your metabolism and many other remedies, too long to mention here . He confirmed it by seeing him smoke .

  17. I am glad somebody finally talked about this important topic. Next we should discuss the question if Ants have a concept of an Afterlife.

  18. Thank you for addressing the "grey area"!!! And also mentioning stress and how impactful it is on our body and mind!!!! I live in LA and doctors are all over, but finding a good one is like playing russian roulette. It's exhausting, time consuming, and expensive to find doctors that are a good fit for you. Thank you again!

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