‘Can Medicine Be Cured? The Corruption of a Profession’

Paul O’Mahoney at the Dublin Review of Books:

Placed together, the book’s two longest chapters, “Big Bad Science” and “The Medical Misinformation Mess”, lay out the charge sheet against modern scientific research in medicine. Medical research, particularly “Big Science” or “Big Data”, has always promised far more than it has delivered, and Big Science has in fact contributed little to medical advances; research and clinical trials, meanwhile, are in the midst of a “replication crisis”, where a huge percentage of trials either never are or cannot be replicated. The first issue medical research must face if it is to reform is “that the culture of contemporary medical research is so conformist that truly original thinkers can no longer prosper in such an environment, and that science selects for perseverance and sociability at the expense of intelligence and creativity”. O’Mahony quotes Bruce Charlton: “[the requirements of contemporary research are] enough to deter almost anyone with a spark of vitality or self-respect … Modern science is just too dull an activity to attract, retain or promote many of the most intelligent and creative people”. “Real scientists,” says O’Mahony, “tend to be reticent, self-effacing, publicity-shy and full of doubt and uncertainty, unlike the gurning hucksters who seem to infest medical research.”

more here.