Intended for healthcare professionals


Answers descend, questions ascend

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 12 August 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:0

Which are more valuable, questions or answers? Philosophers seem to prefer questions. Questions—Why are we here? Is there a God? What is love?—last for ever. Answers are usually provisional and often wrong. Doctors, in contrast to philosophers, seem to prefer answers. Patients come with questions. Doctors answer them. Maybe that's the origin of the bias that has resulted in medical journals being full of answers. The time has come, I'm convinced, to pay much more attention to questions.

Think of a journal as an information system. Such systems are designed to answer questions, …

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