Big Pharma: How science, misused, can “create” an epidemic

ADHD Nation Book Cover From Gareth Cook at Scientific American, reviewing Alan Schwarz’s ADHD Nation:

According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 5 percent of American children suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), yet the diagnosis is given to some 15 percent of American children, many of whom are placed on powerful drugs with lifelong consequences. This is the central fact of the journalist Alan Schwarz’s new book, ADHD Nation. Explaining this fact—how it is that perhaps two thirds of the children diagnosed with ADHD do not actually suffer from the disorder—is the book’s central mystery. The result is a damning indictment of the pharmaceutical industry, and an alarming portrait of what is being done to children in the name of mental health.

From the interview: In what sense is ADHD an “epidemic,” and how was it “made”? ADHD itself is not an epidemic—ADHD misdiagnosis is an epidemic. If the system functioned in such a way as to stay anywhere near the 5percent diagnosis rate that the American Psychiatric Association’s official definition suggests, we wouldn’t be in this mess. But the system doesn’t function properly, not by a long shot. About 15 percent of American children turn 18 having been diagnosed with ADHD, 20 percent of boys, and 30 percent of boys in much of the South. It’s completely indefensible.

The problem, in the ADHD world and others—particularly psychiatric—is that the companies hijacked the entire field. It corralled all the top researchers and doctors in the field and paid them five, six, even seven-figures apiece to conduct studies all written in the same key: ADHD is more widespread and dangerous than anyone knows, the drugs work wonderfully and with almost no side effects, and that if you don’t diagnose and medicate a child, he or she will be doomed to academic and social failure, crash their car, get venereal disease and more. … More.

One suspects that ADHD was not nearly as common in the days when children were expected to spend hours a day helping out on the farm or in the business.

We’ve said it before: Trusting science these days is like trusting the sausage factory. If we are members of the public and don’t know what goes into the stuff, we are trusting a roulette wheel’s spin. In the final analysis, we really must use our own judgment, without apology.

Check out diet science nearly baseless, salt is not bad for you, butter will not kill you, and whole foods probably aren’t worth the extra money, in case you need to save time money and energy for useful health directions. (Hint: get more exercise; humans are not supposed to be sessile organisms like oysters.)

See also: P-values: Has science got probability wrong? Colquhoun: What we really want to know is not the probability of the observations given a hypothesis about the existence of a real effect, but rather the probability that there is a real effect – that the hypothesis is true – given the observations. And that is a problem of induction.


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  • BillyHW

    Women believe whatever the mainstream media tells them to believe. Butter will kill you. Donald Trump is a rapist. Salt will kill you. Bill Clinton is not a rapist. Cholesterol causes global warming…

    • FivePointSpurgeon

      I see science being misused to create an epidemic of actual Canadians and Americans losing freedoms.

    • dance…dancetotheradio

      Melissa McCarthy cannot suck my dick.

  • Brett_McS

    Psychiatry started off intending to be a hard science, on par with biology, but quickly dropped the rigour of real science under the pressure to produce ‘results’. The adherents of this school went down the chemistry road in order to retain the charade of being scientific.

    The only school of psychiatry that ever made sense was that based on what we would today call ‘life hacks’. The great Anthony Daniels (Theodore Dalrymple) is of this school.

    • dance…dancetotheradio

      If psychiatry was a hard science we could conclude that we didn’t have free will.
      And if we didn’t have free will how could we conclude anything?

  • Slickfoot The Deplorable

    Most were diagnosed as being boys with single mothers and/or female teachers

    • dance…dancetotheradio

      Easy targets.
      Fathers tell them to fuck off.

  • mauser 98
  • tom_billesley

    Over-prescription of antibiotics, encouraged by big pharma, is going to hit us hard.

    • Alain

      It is already happening.

    • dance…dancetotheradio

      There have been several times in my life when I have needed antibiotics to rescue me from strep.