Medicine, postmodernism, and the end of certainty

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.313.7072.1568 (Published 21 December 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1568
  1. Paul Hodgkin
  1. General practice adviser The FACTS Project, Sheffield School for Health and Related Research, Regents Court, 30 Regent Street, Sheffield S1 4DA

    Where one version of the truth is as good as another, anything goes

    “The Enlightenment is dead, Marxism is dead, the working class movement is dead and the author does not feel very well either.”1

    I came across a curious word the other day—credicide. The death of belief. Not this or that one but all and every. Strictly speaking, of course, it means the active killing of belief rather than just its simple demise. Some dark agent has been out mugging belief in the night, jumping it, slicing it up while our eyes were turned to see what the arc lights of the media were bringing us this time.

    What is dying of course is not just Progress, Education, Science, Justice, or God—though all these do look anaemic shadows of their former selves. What is dying is the House of Belief itself. Down in the basement the machines are getting too cocky by half. The foundations are changing from carbon to silicon. Upstairs, uneasily aware that the world is changing in ways too deep to fathom, we race the newest technological wonder, work out in the gym, sniff encephalins, or tune into the latest version of reality. And deep in our hearts we suspect that it can only be a matter of time before the House of …

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