The privatization, commercialization, and commodification of medical research raises serious concerns about the epistemic value of published medical trials. Prominent physicians, journalists, and STS scholars have expressed arguments supporting medical nihilism, which is the view that we should have little confidence in the effectiveness of novel medical interventions. In this talk I assess the case for medical nihilism. Salient arguments are based on the frequency of failed medical interventions, the extent of misleading and discordant evidence in clinical research, the sketchy theoretical framework on which many medical interventions are based, and the malleability of even the very best empirical methods employed in clinical research. To evaluate medical nihilism with care I outline the general argument in formal terms. If we attend more broadly to our evidence, malleable methods, and background theories, and reason with our best inductive framework, then I argue that our confidence in the effectiveness of most medical interventions ought to be low. This talk summarizes the key arguments articulated in my forthcoming book (Oxford University Press).
May 7, 2017. 18:00. Building 502, Room 43, Bar-Ilan University.
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