Referring to the above linked blog post written two years ago, I just had to follow the train wreck to its decisive end: thread closing.
At least it wasn't deleted or moved elsewhere.
Seeing it was a reminder of one of the reasons I don't want ad hominem attacks on comments here. Once people go down that path, at that point they're usually talking past each other and writing parallel monologues anyway - trying to see which side can out-shout the other one.
Nobody is listening to each other at that point. It's not a dialog anymore.
I have to give one of the posters in the above thread credit for trying to explain their point of view - Janis, whoever you are, you posted some interesting research there - thank you.
And I give the primary antagonist on our doom-bound journey - Lance - the award for overlooking others' statements and arguing against something that Janis is not arguing about. Go... Lance... or something. Maybe... just go.
I saw both sides of their argument. I did. It was originally easier to read and see both sides, though, and as the ad hominem attacks and snap responses increased, the more I felt my blood pressure rise.
Lance was saying he thought that all the people who claimed they had chronic Lyme disease couldn't possibly have it, but eventually came across in a condescending manner about his point. Janis kept pointing out that you can't tell whether or not someone does, in fact, have chronic Lyme disease or not - because they can be seronegative and the tests are unreliable. Lance countered back that he wasn't talking about people who have late stage Lyme disease - but all the people who didn't, had no evidence of infection, and yet claimed they had chronic Lyme disease - when it could have been something else. It continued on from there, with pretty much the same material repackaged in so many ways... Mostly increasingly antagonistic ways.
I can't tell you how many times I have read similar blog posts like the above and predictably know what the outcome is going to be before I even get to the first comment. And I know there will be a long list of completely polarized opinions there, and yet I read it anyway.
Alongside this compulsive behavior, I suppose it's a healthy sign that I am always on the lookout for what I call the voice of reason - if there is any to be found. Comment #206 by the elusive Dutchman seems to be about the closest thing to the voice of reason.
Around it, there is a lot of chaos... Not to say that people aren't right about their opinion and experience within that chaos - it's just that it isn't very constructive because it ends up a shouting match.
About the one good thing about this is that it typically drives traffic to your web site - whoever the blog owner is probably got a lot of hits that day - just like the Chicago Tribune got a lot of hits for their "dubious diagnosis" article back in December.
Okay - maybe two: some readers of that thread have now been exposed to research that they otherwise would not have seen.
How can these exchanges continue otherwise? How do they get so polarized to begin with?
It doesn't help when one party responds to the other's points by number with 1) Lie, 2) Lie, 3) Lie, 4) Lie and distortion, etc. without clearly pointing out what it was they thought was a lie and what evidence they had to back their assertions. And on a bigger note, one of the problems underlying many of the comments is the fact that the term "chronic Lyme disease" as it has been used by the IDSA in recent years has been almost completely useless - and trying to use it in this thread only adds to the chaos.
After I read something like this, I usually shake my head and think, "What an utter waste of time that was." And I surf on to whatever it was I was originally looking for.
However, I can't shake the fact that every time one of these train wrecks lights up my screen that the same kinds of questions come up:
Why can't everyone take a closer look at all the research from all angles?
Why do they almost always end up with some ad hominem attacks?
Why can't more people have a meta discussion to break the contentious thread into something more constructive - such as why does the IDSA have such a useless and mutable definition for "chronic Lyme disease"?
Why not drive a very wide arc around this argument, bypassing it by asking about how patenting proteins in an organism could lead to issues in research?
How about imagining how much basic research would be conducted today if the Bayh-Dole Act hadn't been passed in 1980?
How about the unintended effects of such an Act on patenting, ethics, drug prices, and the increase in applied science projects?
Sure, these questions seem to become increasingly removed from the issue of persistence. But the point is pretty much laid out for all to see in the elusive Dutchman's comment itself:
"All Janis has kept saying is there needs to be a better test and more research. it seems to me that a lot of these patients are pushing for the same thing, more research, more reliable testing, and better treatment."And that's just it. If people from both sides of this argument could agree on this much - then the rest of the arguments would eventually fade away.
Underlying the above comment, though, one has to look at what the pitfalls are and have been to getting better tests and research so far - and what can be done to change that situation. Because that is the underlying roadblock here, really, and nothing is going to change without it being addressed.
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