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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 19569

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.

 

Publication type: Journal Article

Godlee F
Who should define disease?
BMJ 2011 May 11; 342:
http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d2974.extract


Abstract:

Last year an international panel of professional societies changed the definition of gestational diabetes. The blood glucose threshold for diagnosis was substantially lowered, more than doubling the number of women with the diagnosis. It will now encompass almost one in five pregnancies.

In his feature investigation this week (doi: 10.1136/bmj.d2548 ), Ray Moynihan highlights this as just the latest example of how the definitions of common conditions are being broadened, so much so that by some estimates, almost the entire adult population is now classified as having at least one chronic disease.

Mental illness is an area of particular concern, he says, where controversy already bubbles around the definitions of attention deficit disorder, autism, and bipolar disorder. …

 

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Far too large a section of the treatment of disease is to-day controlled by the big manufacturing pharmacists, who have enslaved us in a plausible pseudo-science...
The blind faith which some men have in medicines illustrates too often the greatest of all human capacities - the capacity for self deception...
Some one will say, Is this all your science has to tell us? Is this the outcome of decades of good clinical work, of patient study of the disease, of anxious trial in such good faith of so many drugs? Give us back the childlike trust of the fathers in antimony and in the lancet rather than this cold nihilism. Not at all! Let us accept the truth, however unpleasant it may be, and with the death rate staring us in the face, let us not be deceived with vain fancies...
we need a stern, iconoclastic spirit which leads, not to nihilism, but to an active skepticism - not the passive skepticism, born of despair, but the active skepticism born of a knowledge that recognizes its limitations and knows full well that only in this attitude of mind can true progress be made.
- William Osler 1909