Consult a Real Doctor with Your Ailments – Not Google

Many doctors must curse the day that the internet was invented. It must be a rare thing for patients to appear in their offices without having already Googled their symptoms and offering their uneducated advice.

Scientists have actually studied this phenomena and have concluded that the internet isn’t only ineffective in offering you medical advice – but that it might be downright dangerous.

When people try to diagnose their ailment with Google, they misdiagnose their problem in two main ways, say the researchers from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. They either overestimate the risk of being someone who will get an illness, or we under-estimate this risk.

Together, Marketing PhD candidate Dengfeng Yan, and his department chairman, Jaideep Sengupta, showed through experiments how the brain is subject to bias that affects your actual disease risk.

As reported by MSNBC, the experiment showed

“that social distance mattered. The less familiar the person in the scenario was, the more heavily the test subjects relied on base-rate information. The closer to the subjects, including themselves, the more they relied on individual case information.”

The findings will be published this month in the Journal of Consumer Research.