The wisdom of the masses

My sister sent me these quotes:

"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out."

Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962

"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau."

Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929

"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value."

Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre, France

"Everything that can be invented has been invented."

Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, US Office of Patents, 1899

No doubt, conventional wisdom can often be laughably (tragically?) wrong. The problem is that, as absurd as all the above sentiments seem to us now and in retrospect, they represented the view of many people years ago. These views were held by many, including many people in positions of power and decision-making responsibility.

A more relevant but nonetheless laughable and widely held belief in 2007: coronary heart disease should be treated with hospital procedures.

Why is a disease that requires 30 years to develop treated only at the final moments with a procedure? Do you only change your car's oil when the engine is on its last legs? Or, do periodic, relatively effortless oil changes during the life of the car make better sense?

I witness just how brainwashed the public has become with this crazed notion when I meet someone socially at, say a fundraiser or cocktail party. When they ask what I do, I tell them I'm a cardiologist. The invariable response: "Oh, what hospital do you work out of?"

I tell them I don't, that I take care of the majority of heart disease right from the office. 99% of the time I get a puzzled look. If we had comic bubbles above our heads revealing our internal thoughts, it would read "Yeah, right. What a kook."

The notion that coronary heart disease is something that is manageable with simple tools for the majority of us in the early stages is entirely foreign to almost everybody. The hospitals and the medical industry have so succeeded in dazzling the public with images of staff in scrubs, rushing from emergency to emergency, lights flashing, scalpels flying. . . how can you possibly accomplish this at home or anywhere outside of the high-tech world of the hospital?

Well, I'm a cardiologist and I do it every day. We all need a figurative dose of electroshock therapy to shake ourselves of this crazy notion.