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Tara Parker-Pope’s blog, Well, sparked an outcry last week when she posted, “A Doctor’s Disdain for Medical ‘Googlers’”. Before you read her post and all the comments (275 so far), I recommend reading the actual Time column which inspired it all.

I’d love to hear what people think about the issues raised, but I also want us to notice the use of the term “googler” to describe the group we would call “e-patients” (and that Harris Interactive would call “cyberchondriacs.”) I deliberately linked to the Wikipedia definitions for each of the terms because they would not appear in any conventional dictionary and because these terms are still being defined.

My question: Do labels matter? Would the French Revolution have gone differently if the peasants had not been called “les sans-culottes“? When history judges the nativist America First Party, will they get better marks than the Know Nothing Party because they had a better name?

What does it mean that some people talk about e-patients in terms of the search engine they often choose, while others talk about them in pejorative terms (even if the slur was not intended)?


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