Coal miners hate solar energy and they all agree that solar is a bad thing. So does that make their position correct? Does anyone else in the world who is not emotionally or financially invested in coal believe this to be true? What do you think will happen long term should coal miners refuse to acknowledge that the world has changed and that they must adapt to survive? I’m not here to argue the merits or capacity of coal vs. solar, I’m talking about the fact that the world has changed and the perception of power generation has changed and that we will, inexorably, move towards less polluting forms of energy production – be that solar or cleaner coal, oil or whatever. I’m talking about the fact that a group of people who are heavily invested in what has been normal for a long time will have to change their minds and adapt to the new reality if they want to survive. Sound familiar?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why dentists in general and orthodontists especially are so against anything that is either outside their normal experience or perceived as a threat to the status quo and it’s become obvious that this is a very human reaction experienced by almost everyone on the planet. Think about your employees or the teachers at your kids’ school. In my experience they too are very resistant to change – even positive change – so I guess we don’t have a lock on being pigheaded!

Just for fun, I looked into what happened when Laparoscopic Surgery was introduced and found that the vast majority of surgeons were very resistant to using the new technique even after it was proven superior in multiple studies. Surgeons most often cited “quality concerns” as the reason they didn’t adapt to the new technology but I’m beginning to believe that “quality concerns” is code for “I don’t understand the new tech and I don’t want to learn something new and I like things the way they are”. The surgeon’s unwillingness to adapt should not surprise any of us. Along with the link to the article, I wanted to share with you one quote I found from an early adopter as it had a eerily familiar ring to it:

“I had the overwhelming feeling that we [general surgeons] had already lost traditional surgical fields like polypectomy, papillotomy, and now even endoscopic appendectomy was discussed. I was convinced that if we passed up [laparoscopic surgery] internist and gynecologist would again take away a piece of our competence.”

Why do you care? What am I on about? What’s the point? 

The points I’m trying to make are these:

  1. The world is changing. Deal with it. The wheel is constantly turning so we need to adjust to the new position or get run over.
  2. Just because you and all your friends agree that Invisalign and SmileDirectClub are bad doesn’t mean you are correct or that these products won’t run you and your practice over. If you ignore the patients who clearly want these treatment modalities then how can you blame others for taking up what you have abandoned?
  3. If you refuse to treat Those People, Accept Medicaid, Offer Teledentistry or Embrace Invisalign, why do you care if others do? Why do orthodontists get so upset at others for dating the guy or girl they rejected? Do you really think you have the authority to tell others not to do something based solely on the fact that you don’t like it?
  4. Orthodontists and dentists have gotten on the wrong side of access to care. We now believe, like the coal miners, that new, more convenient, cleaner, easier to use, less expensive products are BAD because it’s not what we do. Orthodontists and coal miners like to point out the shortcomings of the new delivery systems while totally ignoring the fact that they will be engulfed by the new technology and that more power and more access to care are good things no matter how you slice it. Coal miners talk about how solar setups in remote African villages are unreliable and inefficient. Orthodontist talk about how aligners are not as good as braces and how teledentistry cannot deliver “quality results” but the African villagers and the people who had zero options before SDC are overjoyed to have what they have!
  5. Finally, if you want to know what will happen in any of these industries long term, read The Innovator’s Dilemma. History has all the lessons we need to know what is coming. Innovation and disruption are regular as clockwork and almost always have the same impact on those who hold to the status quo. It’s a little book and if you want to speak with any authority on these subjects I don’t see how you can avoid reading it.

Look, I don’t care what you do or how you do it. The great thing about practicing orthodontics is that we can all do whatever we like! I just hate to see smart people so wrapped up in groupthink that they don’t see what is actually going on. I want you to have as much information as you can so that you can make the best possible decision for you and yours. Have a great week!


4 thoughts on “Coal Miners Hate Solar Energy

  1. Most of you are too young, but when sealants hit the profession you would have thought the devil introduced the concept. My own kids got them early and are caries free to this day as are many of my patients in no small part due to this remarkable invention (federally funded research I might add). Change is indeed hard on some folks and superstitious behavior is powerful.

  2. Ben- I agree with your ideas here- learn about your options available and use the knowledge we spent years to absorb In school and offer the best to our patients. It’s actually fun to try out new methods, which I’m doing now. We are very blessed to be orthodontists.
    The analogy you use does not include one fact- that solar energy companies get a lot of subsidies, so it’s not a level playing field- the government is picking winners and losers based on a particular ideology. It’s not fair for other energy producers.

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