The 90% Rule

There is no question that modern medicine deserves a lot of criticism, especially when it come to treating chronic pain. I’ve seen hundreds of pain patients over the years who responded poorly to medical treatments including surgery, drugs and nerve blocks. The biggest problem is our inadequate understanding of pain.

On the other hand, I’ve also seen hundreds of pain patients who have responded poorly to acupuncture, chiropractic and naturopathy. From my perspective, alternative treatments have not performed any better than conventional medical treatments and are often worse according to at least some research. Alternative practitioners may offer theories of pain just as conventional doctors do but in the end they don’t seem to be any further ahead when it come to explaining pain.

When I hear criticisms of medicine, I’m reminded of an anecdote about a science fiction writer named Theodore Sturgeon who wrote hauntingly beautiful stories of the human condition. Someone approached him at a writer’s convention and remarked that 90% of science fiction is crap. Sturgeon agreed wholeheartedly, reminding the critic that 90% of all writing is crap.