As I wrote in Our Truman Show, it is not easy to ask why medical curricula include some diseases but not others. This is a short followup.
It will be more or less obvious, but it fits with future, more detailed posts.
Few ever question medical textbooks (or diagnostic classifications or practically anything else). It feels out of reach and out of place and not safe.
For one thing, textbooks are a given. Are you going to question the air you breathe too? Textbooks are just there. It is not easy to question ordinary things.
Know your place
Furthermore, like Truman, we are not supposed to question them. That would be questioning authority. They have our best interests at heart — don't you know your place?
The world has already been explored. Time to turn back, Truman.
Textbooks have origins, and are made by man
We can trace the contents of medical textbooks to specific policy decisions made by specific individuals at specific times, but we assume there is no value in it.
We don't stop to think about conflict of interest.
Not true of everything
Interestingly, that isn't true of everything. Questions feel more comfortable with old books or TV shows.
Q: Why was the author so flowery in that old book?
A: To flatter his patron.
Q: Why did her shirt get pulled all the way off when she dropped through the ceiling panel in that TV show? Isn't that hard to do by accident?
A: That was for the ratings.1
Do you see what I mean? We are used to questioning things that are safe to think about. Going meta is standard.
Old books feel man-made. We feel justified, and not absurd, asking why they are the way they are. It feels natural, and not seditious, to consider motives.
Yet billion-dollar medical deals do not raise questions about motives.
Money and people
The contents of textbooks are always the result of money and people being placed in certain places and not others, but we don't question them.
We question things that don't matter. We don't question things that do matter. That's the part that interests me.
A moment in a TV episode raises questions, but the complete absence of certain serious AIDS-like multisystem neuroimmune diseases from medical textbooks does not raise questions.
That is the frame of mind I am challenging.
It all seems ordinary. It is all banal. People are dying.
I think sometimes it is worth just making an observation out loud. Even an obvious one.
1 It feels safe to question the reasons for including this scene:
Note: this citation was certified to be entirely scholarly by a panel of unbiased experts.