Friday, November 15, 2013

Medicine isn't a Science

We've all heard a lot about how economics isn't a science like physics, medicine, and chemistry.

Economists didn't predict the financial crisis. Didn't you hear?

That got me thinking.

Susumu Tonegawa who won the Nobel prize in Medicine in 1987, is a professor at MIT. His son also went to MIT.

I say "went" not because he graduated but because he committed suicide during his freshmen year, right in his dorm room.

If medicine were a science, Tonewaga would have been able to predict his son's death. But he couldn't. You draw the conclusion.

But it isn't just Tonegawa who gets this stuff wrong. My wife is reading How Doctors Think so I read through a few chapters and it seems like every doctor has misdiagnosed a patient. In fact, even the good ones he singled out recount many misdiagnoses, sometimes even fatal ones.

You almost get impression from reading the book that doctors don't really understand the human body well enough to predict when people will get sick or prevent people from dying. But medicine is a science so I guess that is a wrong impression.

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