5 tips for scientific skeptics to find a care team [doctor] they trust

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Why scientific skeptics get better care.

5 signs you're working with a science-savvy, experienced clinician

Skepticism is not a bad thing. Questioning a clinician’s approach and where they get their information will only help you attain the best care possible and lead you toward solutions for the symptoms that keep plaguing you. 


Scientific skeptics may be questioners—always needing to know why (you’re probably the person quietly fact-checking on your smartphone during the group conversation). But, they may also be motivated by negative experiences with clinicians. 


When you’re shelling out money, time, and trying tons of supplements but still can’t find solid answers for your lingering symptoms (“Why is my hair still falling out over a year after I gave birth? Why do I have insomnia?”), it’s natural to become increasingly skeptical.  


But try to avoid getting bogged down in questioning every single move. A good clinician works from research but also their clinical experience paired with your personal needs. Evidence-based is just as important as not being “evidence-limited.”


Let’s discuss five signs you're working with a science-savvy, experienced clinician that you can trust.


#1: Scientific skeptics can relax when they find humility backed by years of education and experience 

Humility is a top quality for a clinician. Unfortunately, a humble approach can be challenging to find in the increasing numbers of nutrition and wellness influencers flooding the media with hacks and blanket protocols. 


Plus, nutrition credentialing is a massively confusing area—those with a 9-month certificate to those with doctoral degrees use the term “nutritionist.” 


Although it seems counterintuitive, years of clinical practice and study build a modest confidence that only the best practitioners will possess. 


This humble approach means they can confidently build a strategic plan for your health, but “I don’t know” is part of their vocabulary, and they will readily admit when they are stumped. 


This trait may be explained by the Dunning-Kruger effect, in which those with the most 

experience and skill believe they know the least, and those with the least competence are the most self-confident. Essentially, the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. 


The Dunning-Kruger effect has been observed in various medical professionals, including specialists and psychiatrists (1). 


Violato & Lockyer (2006) found that physicians assessed in the lowest percentile by their colleagues rated themselves 30-40% higher than their peers regarding professional skills. In contrast, those who were peer-ranked as having the greatest level of skill (>75th percentile) rated themself 30-40% lower than their peers (1). 


You will get the best care when working with a clinician who accepts that they don’t know everything. 


And if they don’t know how to approach your specific problem? 


They will know how to conduct a thorough research review on your unique symptoms, or they will confidently refer you to a practitioner who can meet your needs. 


#2: When they tell you where their information comes from, be it research or clinical experience

Transparency of scientific references or clinical experience is a sound way to screen for an experienced clinician. Check out their blog, articles, or social media accounts. Do they make broad claims and suggest that a rigid protocol will solve everyone’s problem?


Or do they provide nuanced information, acknowledging that what works for one person might not work for you?


For example, something I commonly see targeting postpartum women who are struggling with long-lasting symptoms like weight gain and low energy is the recommendation of a keto or low-carb diet.  


However, if a dysregulated nervous system is triggering your postpartum symptoms, low carb will likely make your symptoms worse.

Having a keen eye for citations and hyperlinks to research is typical for scientific skeptics, and I’d be willing to bet when you read a blog, you’re looking for those references. 


Keep doing that! Your skeptical mind will help ensure your clinician has a solid and well-rounded scientific backing. 


#3: When they welcome your insightful questions vs. being annoyed or writing you off

Years ago, I went to see a specialist for some stubborn symptoms I was experiencing. The clinic was booked nearly nine months out, and I was so relieved when the day of my appointment finally arrived. As a scientific skeptic, I had done my homework and came prepared with a list of questions. 


I began explaining my thoughts and questions about how my various symptoms could be connected. 


Her reply was terse: “Eh, there’s no proof of that. You should stay off of Google.” 


Boy, that comment stuck with me. It made me feel so small. 


Have you ever experienced something similar? If so, you are not alone—so many of my clients have described a similar situation to me. 


My advice from one skeptic to another? Continue to ask questions and take an interest in your health. And this suggestion doesn’t just come from my rebellious heart; there’s evidence to back it up. 


A 2020 systematic review found that researching your medical condition before your appointment can be beneficial and improve your relationship with your provider (2). 


Interestingly, the review provided insight into why some clinicians disapprove of their patient’s investigative efforts. 


“Some physicians interpreted online health information seeking as suggesting a lack of trust in their medical expertise. There is also a known fear of losing control of the consultation with internet-informed patients and the feeling of being perceived as incompetent.”


“Several HCPs [health care professionals] also believed that the internet poses risks as patients may misinterpret information, and this can also cause unnecessary medical visits” (2). 


Ultimately, you deserve to be heard and empowered, not written off.


#4: When they trust you when you tell them what’s happening vs. saying it’s all in your head

There’s nothing quite like being gaslit by your doctor. 


“Your labs are normal, so maybe we should consider a referral to a therapist.”


“Everything looks fine to me. Are you sure you’re really in pain?”


“I don’t think medication is warranted.. let's revisit at your next appointment.”

Oh, you want to try something more natural first? I’m sorry to say there’s no evidence to back that as a suitable intervention…here's your prescription."


The occurrence of a clinician minimizing a patient’s complaints can happen to anyone, but women commonly experience this frustrating situation. 


Google “gender bias in health care,” and you will see a slew of reports ranging from scientific literature to editorials describing cases in which women’s health concerns are not taken seriously by medical professionals.

A 2019 population-wide analysis spanning 21 years observed that women are diagnosed at a later age than men for hundreds of diseases. Although many factors could influence this delay in diagnosis, gender bias is one possible reason (3). 


When it comes to long-term postpartum symptoms, it can be challenging to find a provider who will listen to your intuition that something is not right


By conventional standards, the postpartum period is over by month six, but the reality is that symptoms can last much longer—even years longer. 


So, if you are struggling with long-lasting symptoms, know that your feelings are valid, and when it comes down to it, you know your body best. 


Establishing mutual trust with your clinician is crucial. The ideal relationship is one where they trust your insight, and you trust their clinical knowledge. 


#5: When they’re happy to explain complicated research-backed protocols and use language that’s practical and easy to understand 

Have you ever left a doctor's appointment with a print-off of a strict protocol and complicated diet plan with no support or explanation on how to make the changes feasibly or exactly how it will help you? (“Why can I eat corn but not peas? Why does this supplement cost $75??”)

Scientific skeptics everywhere appreciate and thrive on knowing the why behind things. 


If your clinician doesn’t take the time to explain why their protocol will help you and how to apply their recommendations to your life, it may be time to find a new one. 


Look for a clinician who will happily take the time to talk to you and meet you at your knowledge level. 


Above all, trust your gut. When you meet with your clinician, do you feel safe? Do you believe they are genuinely listening to you? Do you trust their judgment? 

If you’re a scientific skeptic who’s been searching for the right provider, I’d love to talk.


My philosophy? 


This is your life, your health, and your body. You're the pilot, and you're making the decisions—I want you to feel empowered to sit in the pilot seat. I’m your co-pilot, and I’m honored to come along on the journey and help you navigate.


I always want my work with clients to feel like a dialogue versus a monologue. We’re both playing an active role in creating recommendations for your health! 


Click here to apply for a complimentary Meet Dr. B call—I’m happy to answer all your questions and see if we’re a good fit.



  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16832707/ 
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7539496/#CR7
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6368599/#MOESM1