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Should We Take Medical Advice from Celebrities?

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A phenomenon recently pondered by journalists from the British Medical Journal is the fact that quite a few people take medical advice from some celebrities who have no medical credentials. Celebrities are often used for the purpose of advertising campaigns for healthy living. These celebrities are extremely effective for helping medical personnel reach large audiences with strong messages on how to live healthy lifestyles.

Although celebrities are brilliant spokespeople for healthy lifestyles, a few of them sometimes give medical advice to the public that conflicts with the views held by professionals. Some of the celebrities’ conflicting medical advice was deemed harmful and untrue.

Some advice given by famous people that proved to be myths included the claim that autism is caused by vaccines, potential prostate cancer can be detected by urinating certain distances, and other myths. Some people tend to believe a story is credible because the situation may have worked for the person telling the story. Believing in a myth because of the fact that the situation worked for someone once before is known as herding.

Another reason people tend to believe things a famous person says stems from the halo effect. The halo effect is a situation whereby the storyteller’s word is trusted way beyond that person’s credibility.

This study found that the best way for people to stop believing in myths told by some celebrities is for doctors to educate their patients about what the truth is concerning medical advice and where the best sources are to obtain this advice. The researchers believe the best place to start educating people about where to find medical advice is to understand why they trust the advice of non-medically credentialed celebrities.

Reference:

Science Daily

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