About this Research Topic
Alternative therapeutic systems that propose contradicting views to mainstream medical thinking have proliferated in recent decades, thriving in an environment in which distrust of medicine and science, consumerism, a certain fascination with the "exotic" and a longing for the "natural" go hand in hand. Such systems vary from cultural imports of established therapeutic systems - originating outside the "West" - to complex constructs made of fragments of scientific discourse and "new age" ideology. Recently such views, especially the latter, have found in the Internet the perfect niche for propagation.
One such example is the universe of "detox" interventions which provides a fascinating illustration of such complex constructs, aligned with the development of folk versions of pathophysiology, diagnostics and therapeutics and centered on the vague category of "toxins". Ranging from the innocuous to the potentially harmful, "detox" systems have become a major business and source of Internet traffic. More generally, misinformation that negates key advances in medicine abound, such as anti-vaccine activism or aids denialism, and presents a considerable risk to public health, as recently stated by the World Health Organisation itself.
Conversely, academic critical views of mainstream medicine itself have developed a robust body of knowledge, making evident its multiple shortcomings. One major area of work is the critical analysis of medicalization, which has shown an overextension of medical diagnoses and treatments that can become harmful in themselves, and in the end cater more to economic interests than to the well-being of the population.
It is thus a challenge to criticize the distorted versions of medical knowledge that circulate on the Internet whilst keeping a critical perspective of the dominant medical discourse. This is the challenge that we present to potential authors for this Research Topic of Frontiers.
Keywords: Health information, Internet
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