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Controversies in Neurology
November 2009

The Cost of Gullibility

Arch Neurol. 2009;66(11):1418-1420. doi:10.1001/archneurol.2009.234

The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.Oscar Wilde

When the price of eggs rose to unprecedented levels in 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered his surgeon general to decrease demand by warning his fellow Americans of the health hazards of egg consumption. The evidence against the lowly egg was at best shaky, and recent studies suggest that the health risks from eggs, if any, were greatly exaggerated. Nevertheless, millions of health-conscious Americans dutifully altered their diets, secure in their belief that eggs must be bad for one's health. Are we physicians so gullible and easily manipulated that we could possibly fall for such an arrogant ploy? Evidently, because most physicians of the day accepted the marginal idea that eggs are worse than other foods with the same lack of skepticism that many neurologists today display toward the notion that generic antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) pose a frequent patient risk.

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