Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Between the Lines

Fear of the known

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 21 July 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c3912
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

    The persistence of charlatanry irritates doctors, who would much prefer to have a monopoly of foolishness as well as of wisdom. How is it that those who strain at the gnats of science so often swallow the camels of superstition?

    Dr Verdo, from the town of Marmande in the Lot and Garonne, set out in 1867 to answer this question in his short book Charlatanry and Charlatans in Medicine: A Psychological Study. He classified firstly the consumers and then the producers of charlatanry, using his own experience and intuition rather than the methods favoured today. This conduced to brevity, if not necessarily to accuracy.

    Dr Verdo says that women are in first place …

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