I’m a professional buzzkill

Funny reader Erin Dalzell writes to me: “Fine, dash my hopes with all your crazy logic and science. Be that way.”

Hey, it’s what I do! I’m a professional buzzkill.

Seriously now… Professionals often ask me how to debunk myths and bad ideas with their patients. What do you do when a patient asks about some egregious nonsense or quackery they’ve heard about? Or, worse, what if they’re quite keen on it?

In a clinical or one-on-one context, it’s rarely smart to “debunk.” (I think “debunk” strongly connotes a rather blunt approach. Of course, it could be more polite.) Avoid directly stifling patient enthusiasm. Provide a thoughtful opinion when asked. At the harshest, plant a seed of reasonable doubt. We can communicate plenty to people just with our own lack of enthusiasm.

“Debunking” is mostly for open forums and general audiences…not the treatment room, not in person, and especially not unsolicited.