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An Open Letter to Nicholas Carr January 26, 2016

Posted by Peter Varhol in Uncategorized.
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Mr. Carr – I understand that you are not able to respond to everything, or anything, but I hope you will be able to take this in the vein in which it is offered.

Last year, I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  I was at a reasonably good hospital (Lahey Medical Center in Burlington, MA), and the head of surgery there strongly recommended a Whipple Procedure, which involves taking out about a third of my insides.  It was the only way I would live out the year.

You are right.  I should have listened to this professional advice, and taken the surgery.  It would have laid me up for several months, and given me a lower quality of life for a couple of decades until I died.

But I turned to Doctor Google, for a number of hours.  I can’t say I understood all of it, but I determined that it was premature to talk about surgery, and declined.  The diagnosis was wrong.  Today, I am a distance runner, and continually challenge myself physically.  I am in the best shape of my life.

You believe you are so right in your convictions.  You raise reasonable points.  I can respect that.  But reality is more nuanced than you give it credit for.  Without Doctor Google, I would have had the Whipple, and it would have been the wrong decision.  It would have been very detrimental for the rest of my life.  I realize that there is bad and contradictory information on the Internet.  We, as intelligent and reasonable people, can use it to help make our own decisions.  In another era (yes, an era I was also in; I am older than you), I would have followed the doctors’ (plural) advice, and have unnecessary and debilitating surgery.  Please let us use the Internet as it was intended, to inform and educate.  Of course, the decisions are ours.

Does Google make us stupid? No it does not.

That is all.

 

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