Rejecting the advice of experts simply because you don’t like it is unwise

Today I took Daniel to the same paediatric dentist Elizabeth saw last week. He’s been seeing the school dental nurse since he was four but I couldn’t help wondering whether they had missed something with him as well? After all, they only discovered one cavity in Elizabeth’s teeth when the dentist found four. Thankfully, his teeth are fine. What a relief!

Next week Elizabeth will have a general anaesthetic and stainless caps added to three of her teeth for a total cost of around $3000. I’m really not keen on this at all but I’ve booked her in and we’re going ahead with it because this is what the dentist recommends and I trust her. I’m not going to go against the advice of an expert in the field simply because I don’t like what they have to say. But this is what people do with climate science all the time.

Climate scientists have told us for decades that if we continue to burn fossil fuels the Earth will warm. This is a bad thing because the polar ice-caps and glaciers will melt, and indeed they already are, causing the sea level to rise. This is bad because it will lead to flooding, coastal erosion, more powerful storm surges, and loss of habitat for humans and animals. The ocean will become more acidic which is bad news for our coral reefs and fisheries. There will be crop failures and as a result of this, food insecurity. The frequency and severity of heat waves, floods, fires, and drought will increase. Tropical cyclones are expected to become more intense. Ticks and insects that carry disease will spread into new geographic areas. Heat-related deaths will increase. And I could go on and on.

These are not the views of some extremist. This is main stream science. It’s all out there for anyone who cares to find out but most people are too apathetic to care and the problem with apathy is that our politicians don’t have the guts to act without pressure from the public.

Climate scientists have told us for a long, long time now that we need to stop burning fossil fuels. Economists have told us for a long time that the best way to do this is with a carbon tax. Despite all of this, Tony Abbott, the Australian Prime Minister, just repealed the carbon tax. A very dumb decision. I saw this video yesterday which highlights the stupidity of his decision and makes fun of the people who voted for him (h/t 350 or bust). It’s goes on a bit and the guy gets a bit annoying after a while, but the message is good.


17 responses to “Rejecting the advice of experts simply because you don’t like it is unwise”

  1. In case of a dentist, I feel it is quite natural to ask for a second opinion. In this case the person making the diagnosis is also the person that earns money from fixing it. I changed my dentist once because I had the feeling he was more interested in my money than in my health. Never had so many cavities before and after this guy.

    For climatologists the situation is reversed, we would make more money if we would state that everything is very uncertain. That would lead to fresh money for fundamental climate research. Now most money goes to hydrologists, biologists, engineers, etc. for climate change impact studies.

    • Victor,

      Yes, I agree. I don’t think there’s any harm in getting a second opinion and I did. I also took my other child to this same dentist and he doesn’t have any fillings and nor did he need any. I’m pretty sure the dentist wasn’t out to make a quick buck. I also saw the X-rays and you can see cavities on X-rays, so it’s hard to make stuff like this up.

  2. It was difficult at first for people to think, what was to them, the unthinkable. It is now just as difficult to believe that the elected will not deal with it. We have to find ways ourselves. Such things as join and contribute to Friends of the Earth, barrack the elected and anything else we can think of. We should not have to make such efforts when we have the elected to deal with it. The reality is that if we don’t, they won’t.

    Add to that; the matter needs to be taken out of the hands of the economists. It is too late for the criteria of economic expediency. We need the genuine climate scientists and competent engineers to set the agenda and the economits to serve that need. In our present position, I don’t see any other approach being sufficiently effective.

    • Yes, I agree with this approach too. The climate scientists and engineers telling us what needs to happen and the economists providing a solution. I think this is basically the carbon tax. The main problem is that the big emitters – China and the USA – don’t have one. And now we have Australia repealing theirs which will be to their detriment.

  3. I am not sure that people don’t believe it. I think it is just easier for them not to believe it so that they don’t have to give anything up. To be blunt, I think that is down to selfishness because most people figure they won’t be around to deal with the aftermath OR they think that because they live in more economically powerful countries, those countries will be the ones to come out best anyway.

    Very pessimistic view, I know 😦

    • Yes, I think there’s an element of selfishness too. It will be tragic if we wait until irreversible changes have taken place before taking action. Although probably some irreversible changes have already happened – I don’t think it’s so easy to refreeze the water that has melted at the poles.

      • That’s a good point about refreezing and scientifically obvious, although I’d never given that a thought before.

  4. I tried to put a comment here a couple of times, sheesh, $3000 is a heck of a lot for dental work- My little boy had general and er, 5 fillings put in for free, although it was about a five month wait, so maybe financing it might have meant he got it sorted sooner- they used to think that deciduous teeth were just gonna fall out so what was the point etc, although decaying teeth are not good to have in the mouth cos they hurt, which makes eating unpleasant and also, the bugs in the mouth might end up in other places of the body where they shouldn’t be (not so sure on that one, cause stomach acid is pretty good at preventing any microbial invasion and generally most things that go in the mouth would hopefully head there vs the nose or the lungs!) thing is, dental health impacts on health in general- flossing helps a lot- which is what I need to be doing now…

    • Hi Sarah, I’ve just trawled through my spam folder and discovered your comment. Sorry about that! I’m not sure why this happens but I found quite a few comments in my spam folder. I must check it more regularly.

      I wouldn’t have minded waiting five months but the public dental nurse only found one filling so I wasn’t all that keen to go back. They didn’t exactly inspire confidence. It ended up costing more like $2200, so a bit better, but still huge nonetheless.

      • A spam folder is a totally appropriate name for a pro-vegan’s bumf eh?! oh well, yikes, $2200… a lady I have intermittent contact with said that her little boy has to have dental surgery- he has ASD and will not open his mouth for any dental procedure…yeah, the sticky ice block- I guess kids might possibly spit ice ‘chips’ ( what they used to have available post surgery on the gastro ward) out or maybe choke on them- a friend said that her little boy threw up, cos, well the mouth is quite vascular and he had some extractions done…the shock of seeing this caused her to faint- so there were 2 patients then!

  5. Have you thought of a second opinion by another dentist?

    One of my wife’s emloyees had been going back to her GP with a thoat problem and was even referered to a specialist.. who fobbed her off…nothing wrong they said, no further investigation required.
    she still thought something wrong and paid to go privately and have scans and further tests. And a growth was found, currently awaiting test results on malignancy or not….My daughter has just had an mri scan, and it is only because my wife’s knowledge and persustance that we have got past the gp gatekeepers to get someone to take it seriously. My wife (optician)has a professional relationship with a consultant eye surgeon and they were concerned enough to get some urgency and get this sorted asap. GP and eye department were useless

    within dentistry some are intervention happy, some keep very uptodate, some are brilliant, some average.. how do you know how good your dentist is..
    (A serious ex-girlfriend was – still is- a dentist and i’ve heard lots of horror stories about patients that had bad experiences with other dentists,
    Coming to her)

    • Hi Barry,

      A second opinion is definitely a good idea and we did get this. My uncle is a dentist in Australia and so I sent my daughter’s X-rays to him. Her cavities are fairly obvious on the X-ray, even to me. Two of them have gone through from a point where these two teeth touch. So they can only be seen on the X-ray (which explains why the dental nurse missed them, I guess). My daughter must have got some food stuck between her teeth at some stage and this has created a cavity on both sides of the food in two different teeth. We’re flossing her teeth everyday now.

      It is hard to know whether a specialist is any good, I do agree. This dentist is Harvard-trained (I don’t know whether that makes any difference but it certainly sounds good), she’s quite young, and has a really good bedside manner. I can’t fault her in any way. She’s also chosen a treatment that lasts. We could just put fillings in my daughter’s teeth instead but these are molars that won’t fall out for another ten years and fillings won’t last. So the dentist is not just opting for a short-term fix and I appreciate that.

      I talked at length with the dentist about this. The technology for teeth is just not that great yet. The only thing that sticks well to teeth at the moment is metal. The white things look good but they don’t last and the tooth has to be completely dry to get them to stick. I also took my son to the same dentist. My son is seven and he doesn’t have any fillings and nor did he need any. I can’t think of any reason why my son’s teeth are fine and my daughter’s not. They’ve both had the same upbringing, used the same toothpaste, and have the same diet more or less.

      I’m glad you managed to get your daughter past the gatekeepers. Is she ok?

      • “The white things …”
        Not sure if you are talking about ceramics here, but if you are, I can only recommend them. The materials have come a long way in the last 15 years or so. I’ve had all my fillings (sins of my youth) replaced 9 years ago and the new ones are great. Was done by a very good dentist in Europe though and not exactly cheap.
        The important thing is indeed to get the prepared teeth dry and the dentist should always use a dental dam. A lot of dentists don’t, possibly because it’s awkward and makes their job harder. It’s also not comfortable for the patient I can tell you, but worth it.
        Ceramics these days can be prepared directly at the dentist’s clinic. The teeth get digitally scanned, the dentist does some more modeling on them and cuts the ceramic filling right there and then. No need to take molds and send them to the lab, wait for them to be done and then go back later to have them put in.
        Sorry if this sounds like advertisement, but I am really happy with the ceramic and the dentists in NZ I have been to since then were all blown away by the quality of the work.

      • I’m not really sure if this is the same thing my dentist was referring to. It might be. She seemed to think they wouldn’t last for another 10 years (which is when Elizabeth’s teeth will fall out) and she’s not a New Zealand dentist but an American one. It might be different for kids too. The silver crowns Elizabeth has aren’t the same as adult’s crowns. They’re stainless steel caps and are not moulded to fit the tooth. But I’ll definitely get the opinion of a European dentist once we move to Europe. I would have preferred white fillings and so I did make a point of asking for these instead. I also checked with an Australian dentist (and I think dentistry is pretty good in Australia) and he said the same thing about stainless steel and longevity.

  6. Second opininion from another specialist?
    My daughter’s mri scan was pushed through by the second specialist we had seen.. fobbed off by first one.. both specialists are colleagues in the same hospital

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