Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Nothing’s Sacred

Exclusive! Journalist admits to getting it wrong

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 04 July 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e4559
  1. Colin Brewer, research director, Stapleford Centre, London
  1. brewerismo{at}

Medicine is one of the most trusted professions. Journalism almost certainly isn’t, and perhaps this causes envy among some journalists. Take the example of Tchaikovsky. As is well known, he died of cholera during an epidemic in St Petersburg. Conspiracy lovers insist that he deliberately killed himself by drinking water contaminated with cholera because his homosexuality was about to be exposed. This unlikely theory was invented by a journalist years after Tchaikovsky’s death, but Tchaikovsky’s doctors received some equally absurd criticism from journalists. In a media frenzy worthy of today’s tabloids, Russian journalists claimed that Tchaikovsky’s life …

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