The Rise of Personal Science: One Example, About Acne

Looking around for evidence connecting glutathione level and acne (it has been proposed that low glutathione causes acne), I found this at acne.org, from a 20-year-old woman:

As a personal choice research and viewing other people’s experiences with supplements is safer than taking my doctor’s advice. My doctor insisted I go on the pill, insisted I get on antibiotics [a common prescription for acne], insisted nothing was wrong with me and even did a hormonal test…said I was “healthy and normal” and to leave the office because my hormones were normal as well as everything from the liver onwards. I stared at him and told him he was wrong: 1. hormone tests will lie if I’m on the pill and 2. I have acne, never had it before in my life and it came about too fast … If acne is a symptom then something is wrong. I personally don’t trust doctors because they generalize [too much] and from personal experiences [where] I’ve been laughed at and dismissed and even told “leaky gut doesn’t exist”. Personal research goes a long way and it’s so great to have communities like this where everyone can help each other out.

This is personal science in the sense of trying to learn from other people’s data. What’s interesting is that she says this. Nobody forced her to. She isn’t try to sell something or look good. Her discovery of the power of “research and viewing other people’s experiences” — better than trusting a doctor — (a) interests her and (b) she thinks will interest acne.org readers. Her own experience certainly supports what she says.

Long ago, it was discovered that the Earth is round. Before the discovery, nobody said that. After the discovery, people discussed it for a while (“Have you heard? The Earth is round.”), maybe a few hundred years. When knowledge of the Earth’s roundness became part of everyone’s belief system, people stopped discussing it.

In other words, this comment suggests that a new truth is coming into being. Her experience is the same as mine with regard to acne: Can’t trust what a doctor says. My dermatologist prescribed two medicines. Studying myself showed that only one of them worked, a possibility my dermatologist seemed to have never considered.

8 Responses to “The Rise of Personal Science: One Example, About Acne”

  1. derp Says:

    Well, doctors aren’t scientists. My medical training made it obvious to me that every scientific thinking is removed from daily medical work. Don’t investigate. Don’t understand mechanisms. Don’t use solutions that work, only because they counteract your intuition or “common medical wisdom” or “state of the art” or your private pet theory.

    Use the guidelines Big Pharma wrote for us, repeat every therapy even if it has shown to work poorly (“it’s the best we have” *barf*) and don’t listen to the the patient who has a different experience – he’s the layman, after all.

    Doctors obey. They are the modern version of Pythagorean acousmatics.

    Seth: Doctors obey, yes, but they supposedly obey scientists. Such as medical school professors.

  2. dearieme Says:

    “Long ago, it was discovered that the Earth is round. … When knowledge of the Earth’s roundness became part of everyone’s belief system, people stopped discussing it.”

    Until a 19th century American fabricated the notion that medieval man supposed the earth to be flat.

  3. Nancy Lebovitz Says:

    Off topic:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/07/science/unreported-side-effects-of-drugs-found-using-internet-data-study-finds.html?hp&_r=1&

  4. Chuck Says:

    It’s quite evident that doctors, and scientist, forget that personal science is the foundation of all science and medical treatments. Their attitude is: “If it’s not Western, it’s not valid. If it’s not Modern, it’s not valid.” Humans have been tinkering around with ways and means to cure or heal themselves since the first time they stubbed their toe. Some things worked, some things didn’t. The things that worked were passed down and shared with others.

    Thinking that an individual is incapable of finding a cure or making some scientific discovery is asinine.

    Cheers and good health

  5. Nile Says:

    The contact email given on the home page does not work for me. i hope you don’t mind using comments to contact you. “email” follows

    Dr. Roberts-

    This may interest readers of your blog. Allan Savory has discovered a counter intuitive way to reverse the increasing desertification of arable land. His method goes against conventional wisdom. This method sequesters carbon, provides increased food and restores grassland all at a very low cost. Having lived in the Horn of Africa I think this is revolutionary. I only hope he can get more traction.

    I think it is akin to the story about Father Henri de Laulanié and his discoveries about growing rice. They were counter intuitive as well.

    Here is Mr. Savory’s TED talk.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/allan_savory_how_to_green_the_world_s_deserts_and_reverse_climate_change.html

    Best,

    Nile

  6. Kaleberg Says:

    I’ve been lucky. Most of my doctors consider me an excellent test subject, so they often put me on a medication with a specific plan to see if it is working. When I had an infection, I was told to expect improvement in so many days, and otherwise to call in and arrange for a stronger antibiotic. When I started medication for a chronic condition, we did an initial test and arranged for me to return and see if the drug was having the desired effect. There was a plan B, if it had failed.

    Seth: You have low standards if you are impressed that if a drug doesn’t work, your doctor will try a different one.

  7. Christina Says:

    The side effects of drugs on acne really does concern me. I have to constantly take probiotics because this medication just upsets my stomach.

    Aside from the topicals we are using, has anyone used LED Light Therapy? I know we can get treatments like this in medical offices but in this article I found, they are talking how there is an FDA approved LED Light Therapy handheld at home device. This info is at the bottom of the article which highlights skin care devices. Please tell me if any of you have tried it because I for one am tired of the medication.

    http://www.examiner.com/article/the-year-ahead-skin-care

  8. Pierre Says:

    Are doctors educated for acne even?