Ask big questions and think critically

GlossaryAs a forensic psychiatrist with an interest, but no formal training in philosophy, Susanna Every-Palmer (Zanna) was initially sceptical about her suitability for our module on the History and Philosophy of EBHC. I informed her that all she required was the willingness to ask big questions and to think critically. During the course she became especially interested in the debates we had about whether EBHC has done more good than harm. Zanna argued that there are so many biases in the way evidence is produced that EBM has become unreliable and potentially harmful. She therefore wrote her thesis examining how biased trials and selective reporting undermine EBM. Far from suffering due to her lack of experience in philosophy, Zanna won the course essay prize for receiving the best grade. Over the last few months we modified the essay to be suitable for an academic journal. We submitted to the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practicespecial issue on the Philosophy of Medicine, and recently received the fantastic news that her paper has been accepted without any revisions!* I have never had a paper accepted without revisions, and I was proud to be associated with Zanna’s huge success. Zanna proved that you don’t have to be a philosopher to engage with philosophical questions.

Alexander Mebius who also took our module on the History and Philosophy of EBHC also had a version of his assignment accepted to the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practicespecial issue on the Philosophy of Medicine. Alexander is a PhD candidate from Sweden who is undoubtedly destined to be a world-leading philosopher of medicine.

Jeremy Howick

About Jeremy Howick

Jeremy is a funded postdoctoral research fellow at the CEBM. Jeremy's research draws on his interdisciplinary training of science and clinical epidemiologist. Research interests include the nature of 'placebos' and whether their use is ethical in clinical practice and clinical trials, the role of 'mechanistic reasoning' as evidence for efficacy and effectiveness for medical and social policy interventions. CEBM and Postgraduate Programme in EBHC tutor, Jeremy is also the author of The Philosophy of Evidence-based Medicine.

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