A view from Dave Trott: Never ask a barber if you need a haircut
A view from Dave Trott

Never ask a barber if you need a haircut

When doctors go on strike, fewer people die.

Take Los Angeles: in 1976, hospital staff went on strike for 52 days and deaths went down by 18%.

In Israel, in 1973, a hospital strike lasted 28 days and deaths went down by 50%.

In Bogotá, Colombia, in 1976, a hospital strike lasted 52 days and deaths went down by 35%.

We think that increased technology in healthcare has resulted in increased longevity.

But researchers Sonja and John McKinley found that, since 1900, medical intervention has increased average lifespan by just 1% to 3%, that’s about a year.

So what’s actually happening?

It seems the main problem is unnecessary intervention – medical conditions that would be better left alone.

It seems to be the old cliché: "Never ask a barber if you need a haircut."

It’s the same if you take your car to a mechanic and ask if there’s anything wrong.

He’ll find something wrong, that’s his job.

That’s how it is with plumbers, soldiers, chefs, teachers, doctors, everyone.

When you go to a doctor, they recommend a treatment, drugs or surgery.

During a doctors’ strike, only emergency cases got seen, and deaths went down, so what does that tell you?

It tells you that a lot of deaths are from treatments prescribed for non-emergency conditions.

Especially in the US, doctors are constantly incentivised by drug companies to prescribe the medicines they make.

According to the FDA, in 1978, 1.5 million Americans were hospitalised for prescription drugs, and one in seven hospital beds were used by people with adverse drug reactions.

According to the General Accounting Office, 51% of all drugs between 1976 and 1985 caused adverse reactions, such as: heart, liver or kidney failure, birth defects, blood disorders, respiratory arrest, seizures or blindness.

Prescription drugs are reported to kill 100,000 patients a year in US hospitals.

Robert Mendelsohn, ex-chairman of the Medical Licencing Committee for Illinois, put it this way: "The great danger to health is the doctor who practises modern medicine. I believe modern medicine’s treatments for diseases are seldom effective, and they’re often more dangerous than the disease they’re designed to treat. I believe that much modern medicine could disappear from the face of the earth (doctors, hospitals, drugs, and equipment) and the effect on our health would be immediate and beneficial."

Mendelsohn is saying that an awful lot of problems could be solved without medical intervention just plain old-fashioned common sense.

Of course, a specialist, in any area, would never agree with that.

It’s in their interest to find a complicated problem, because that’s their job.

Murray Chick, our head of planning, once told me about the advice one of the cleverest men in advertising gave him when he was a young planner.

He said: "It’s your job to make the client believe his problem is unbelievably complicated, and you’re the one person who can solve it for him."

As a client, or a creative, it’s worth remembering that.

The real solution to most problems is the radical application of common sense, that’s what creativity is.

Don’t ask a specialist for help unless you’ve already decided you can’t solve the problem with common sense.

In other words, never ask a barber if you need a haircut.

What would you expect him to say?

Dave Trott is the author of Creative Blindness and How to Cure It, Creative Mischief, Predatory Thinking and One Plus One Equals Three