Liam Farrell: About time we were a bit more bullish

A new series has just started on BBC Northern Ireland (a real big audience then) following the fortunes of surgeons in a local hospital. It is rather modestly titled SuperDocs and a consultant friend of mine was greatly vexed by this.

'Preening, egotistical bastards,' he exploded, oblivious to my surprise that he knew a word as big as egotistical. 'Who do they think they are? It should have been called "SuperDicks".'

Here I must admit to a vested interest, as I have done local TV myself and was described as a 'Top Doc', purely for advertising purposes.

Everything on TV is a lie, so it didn't bother me, and saved me the trouble of boasting for myself, although it did expose me to some good-natured ragging without sparing me any more menial duties. I would get a message from my partner: 'Please inform Top Doc that Mrs Magee is here to have her toenails pared.'

But apart from my own selfish reasons, my colleague's vitriol was misplaced; the time for doctors shunning publicity has passed.

The achievements of modern medicine deserve and demand to be recognised and celebrated, especially with the rising tide of nonsense and bullshit foisted on a gullible and vulnerable public by the complementary medicine industry, which has no scruples about peddling its fabrications through the media.

In Northern Ireland we have two main daily papers. Both are of decent quality but, like everything else here, broadly split on tribal lines. The Irish News is nationalist-lite, the Belfast Telegraph unionist-lite. I've been a columnist for both, as I am a media slut and will write for anyone if I'm getting paid.

But now the papers proudly boast columns by a complementary 'doctor' and a 'kinesiologist' respectively. When I spoke to The Irish News, expressing discontent at this garbage appearing in what was supposed to be a reputable publication, I was told 'Oooh, but she's very popular'.

Which rather misses the point; horo-scopes are popular, big tits on page three are popular, but just because something is popular doesn't confer any merit. At least the big tits are upfront; they are no more than what they appear to be, and aren't presenting the illusion of knowledge and masquerading as serious medical advice.

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