Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Medical Journals Undermine Their Own Credibility

Recent articles about the Middle East and climate change published in The Lancet and the British Medical Journal demonstrate that even medicine is being contaminated by politics. This is dangerous and unprofessional.


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It’s official. Professionalism is dead. Grown-ups have apparently gone extinct. Infants are now in charge.

July 23, 2014. The Lancet, which describes itself as the “world’s leading general medical journal,” publishes “An open letter for the people of Gaza” denouncing “Israeli aggression.” This is a long letter – some 1,500 words worth. That’s twice as much space as is normally allotted to a columnist in your local newspaper.

This letter isn’t about medicine. It’s about Middle Eastern politics.

September 9, 2014. The British Medical Journal, which claims to be in the business of disseminating information that will “help doctors improve their practice,” publishes an analysis titled “The science of anthropogenic climate change: what every doctor should know.” Because, when setting bones, interpreting MRIs, diagnosing breast cancer, and performing heart surgery, it’s important to know that the combined “land and ocean surface temperature data” increased “about 0.89°C” between 1901 and 2012.

Neither of these articles belongs in a medical journal. The fact that they appeared there is deeply troubling. First, it signals to rank-and-file health care professionals that it’s OK to mix medicine and politics.

Second, it gives members of the public – who already spend billions on “alternative” remedies that are often indistinguishable from snake oil – a solid reason to be skeptical of medical advice. Having appeared in two of the most prestigious medical journals on the planet, these articles are all the evidence any sane person needs. Health care is now outrageously contaminated by politics.

Sayonara dispassionate, rational professionalism.


Read about some of the climate-related articles that have appeared in the New Zealand Medical Journal here.



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This entry was posted on October 11, 2014 by in ethical & philosophical, media and tagged , .
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