The Positivity Machine: “Evidence-Based Alternative Medicine” and Grades of Recommendation

By definition, I begin, Alternative Medicine, I continue, Has either not been proved to work, or been proved not to work. Do you know what they call alternative medicine that’s been proved to work? Medicine. —Tim Minchin, Storm   In his beat-poem Storm, the musician and comedian Tim Minchin lays …

The Parachute Problem: Extracorporeal Life Support and the Demand for Trials

“One of the best things about [extracorporeal life support] is that it acts as a parachute. It’s there when everything else fails and has known results”. Robert Bartlett   1: Parachutes and the Demand for Trials   The United States Parachute Association recorded 120 deaths while skydiving in America in …

The Avoidable Scandal: Benoxaprofen and Theories of Medical Evidence

“This debate is about Britain’s greatest drug disaster. It is about the scandal of a huge United States pharmaceutical company coming to Britain and boasting of Opren, a new wonder drug to treat arthritis — with tragic results.” —Lord Jack Ashley Benoxaprofen, marketed as Opren in the UK, created a …

Pluralism and the Problems of Demarcation

In 1983, Larry Laudan proclaimed the “Demise of the Demarcation Problem” (Laudan 1983). I will argue that the ‘simple demarcation’ problem should indeed be abandoned. However, abandoning the quest for simple demarcation does not entail that demarcation problems are intractable. Though the dream of a single criterion to demarcate ‘science’ …

Hierarchies of Evidence: Database of Hierarchies

Hierarchies of Evidence are a tool employed by many advocates of Evidence-Based Medicine. They are used to appraise evidence from a range of sources, as well as to teach medical students about evidence and evidence appraisal. My PhD thesis concerns the variation in hierarchies defended, and the range of philosophical interpretations of those hierarchies.

Against “Effective Treatments”

I am agitating for philosophers of medicine and philosophically-minded clinicians to lead the charge against the term “effective treatment”. This phrase has become ubiquitous in the medical and philosophical literature. But it is a misguided choice which misleads the public and practitioners alike. In general, I want to promote talk about …