Medicine And Books

A Sceptic's Medical Dictionary

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.315.7119.1387a (Published 22 November 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:1387
  1. J P Bunker, visiting professor
  1. Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London Medical School

    Michael O'Donnell: BMJ Books, £14.95, pp 208 ISBN 0 7279 1204 6

    This is a light hearted collection of quips, anecdotes, and aphorisms that slyly feeds the reader some serious comments on the state of medical practice and clinical research. To give a flavour of the book, here is a small selection that I found provocative.

    The entries are presented under somewhat arbitrary categories. Under “Faith,” which Dr O'Donnell defines as a “valuable ally in achieving a ‘cure’ and a dangerous enemy in assessing it,” he offers the following from Sir Peter Medawar: “Exaggerated claims for the efficacy of a medicament are very seldom the consequence of any intention to deceive; they are usually the outcome of a kindly conspiracy in which everybody has the very best intentions. The patient wants to get well, his physician wants to have made him better, and the pharmaceutical company would have liked …

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