Friday, 4 April 2014


Pretty much all of us in medicine have had to do some research during our careers, and we've had to publish. It's been a necessary part of our training. I, like many others, didn't enjoy it very much and was glad to get it over with and return to a career of clinical medicine. But that's not to say having done it was without value. It taught us a lot about the pitfalls and errors of research, and how to look critically at the published work of others.
One of the great principles of science to my mind is that of uncertainty, or tolerance. The history of medicine, and science in general, is full of instances when cherished long held beliefs have had to be discarded in the face of new evidence. This happens because some individuals question accepted wisdom, and investigate it. Some areas of practice fail to live up to that scrutiny and we all have to take on new ideas as a result. This is how science advances, through the acknowledgement that we may be wrong.
When an area of science is repeatedly investigated, and results confirmed, this adds more and more credibility to that area. If we try really hard to disprove something, and fail, that adds great credibility to the theory under investigation. It follows then that scientists should be prepared to gladly open their data to scrutiny, and to encourage others to try and disprove their work.
I have recently come across a quote from an eminent scientist. I'm not going to identify him, or his field, I don't want to get distracted by the subject, but stick with the principle. He is quoted as saying;

“We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.”

To my mind this man has become lost in his own ego. He appears totally unwilling to have others see his data, or test his theory. He has crossed the line from being an open minded scientist of humility, and become a quasi religious figure demanding respect for his dogma. What a complete knob!


  1. Couldn't be bothered to watch the video dear Zorro - far to long - and it wasn't there on (your) initial posting.

    Your totally closed mind to his (who) open mind Phil's my heart with dread.

    Anna :o]

  2. I don't suppose the BBC is able to produce such an intelligent programme today.

    As for your quotation - one of those who is convinced of their perfect knowledge and hence consider themselves superior to the rest of us. As Thomas Sowell said:
    Some of the biggest cases of mistaken identity are among intellectuals who have trouble remembering that they are not God.
    The quotation arose from one of those I think.