Review of “Bad Medicine: Doctors Doing Harm Since Hippocrates” by David Wootton, Social Affairs Unit Blog, August 31st 2006

This post has had a relatively steady stream of traffic on “A Medical Education.” It also has more Likes, more than other posts of mine. I am reblogging it here because it seems to have struck a chord, more than other posts. Perhaps it’s the book’s title, which resonates with many! I think I loaned the book to someone some years ago and I am not sure where it is now – would be interesting to re-read after over a decade.

A Medical Education

My penultimate piece (so far) for the SAU Blog. This book greatly impressed me at the time, which is surely clear. Since I have learnt a lot about the philosophy of medicine and am perhaps a little more sceptical about the scientific pretensions of medicine (let alone the medical pretensions of psychiatry). Nevertheless Wootton’s arguments seem important and difficult for even the most critical theorist to fully evade. I came across references to Thomas McKeown lately, having nearly forgotten about him.

Bad Medicine: Doctors Doing Harm Since Hippocrates
by David Wootton
Pp. 304. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006
Hardback, £16.99

Not only were the Ancient Greeks influential, in many fields they are still directly influential today. Whitehead famously remarked that all Western philosophy is footnotes to Plato. Euclidean geometry is still central to mathematics. Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes are still performed. While the practice of history today is…

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