A healthy state of ignorance

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 21 April 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:a

“No one can in five, or even in fifty, years learn all that one could wish about disease and its prevention and treatment. You have to go on learning all your lives, and, a healthy state of ignorance is a saving grace.” So said a Dr Andrews a hundred years ago when welcoming new medical students (p 953). Ignorance is bliss, and economists, practitioners of the dismal science, have a notion of “rational ignorance.” It would be wholly irrational to try to learn everything, yet doctors seem to be prone to the disease of pretending …

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