Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How Big Pharma Cons Doctors

"How would a medical audience respond to a lecture that was completely devoid of content, yet delivered with authority by a convincing phony?" was the question asked by researchers almost forty years ago which beings this story by Carl Elliott — The Secret Lives of Big Pharma's 'Thought Leaders'. Of course, the reponse to the lecture was "overwhelmingly positive, ... despite the fact that, as the authors write, it was delivered by an actor 'programmed to teach charismatically and nonsubstantively on a topic about which he knew nothing.'"

"If medicine were simple and transparent, pretending to be a medical expert would be very difficult," says the author. "An audience could spot incompetence right away. Pretending to be a medical expert is possible precisely because medical knowledge is so specialized and opaque."

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