Recently AACI developed the Medical Web Content Certification https://aacihealthcare.com/services/medical-content-certification/ to encourage the dissemination of quality health information for patients and professionals and the general public and also to promote the latest and most relevant medical data through the use of the internet. Medical Web Content Certification is a service provided to website producers so that their customers may have a high level of confidence and assurance that the content of their URL is valid. In this way, the quality and objective, transparent medical information for internet users can be assured.
As today the web is rife with unfounded and often harmful information regarding the health and welfare, I remember the paper published in the Science in the early eighties (when the internet was in it’s very beginning). The study published the results of a sociological study in which scientists had been asked to comment on a group of references. In half the cases, the scientists had been told the origin of the citations; in half, they had not. The study reached the following conclusions:
- If one has a high regard for an author, one is inclined to agree with him no matter what he says.
- If one agrees with a conclusion, one is inclined to have a high regard for the author no matter who he is.
- If one has little regard for an author, one will not readily agree with him no matter what he says.
- If one doesn’t agree with a statement, one easily develops a low regard for the author no matter who he is.
This study reminds me on an excellent joke performed by Sir Francis Crick (with Watson, one of the fathers of molecular biology). With his colleague Sidney Brenner he produced a manuscript of some 80 pages. What journal would possibly think of accepting such a manuscript? As a member of the Royal Society, Crick decided to publish the article in its Proceedings. As he and Brenner doubted that anyone would read this article, they decided to do a little experiment. Instead of an ordinary journal reference, they cited “Leonardo da Vinci, personal communication”. The manuscript was immediately accepted. The references were approved by the journal’s scientific reviewers and by the editor-in-chief without comment. The DaVinci citation was detected only at the last minute by a technical assistant checking all references for spelling errors before sending the material to the printer.
The Roman poet Juvenal in his Satires asks: “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” (Who will guard the guards themselves?) Doctors and other health specialists and advisors on the web can for sure act (if they are confident and assured) as guardians of the patients’ health and wellbeing. However, there should be another “guardian” who will check the dissemination of quality health information for patients and professionals and the general public helping to promote the latest and most relevant medical data through the use of the internet.
Hope the AACI Medical Content Certification will fulfill this mission helping trustworthy, clinical information to be found on the internet in these unusual times of rampant misinformation.