Medicine is not science

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ABSTRACT: Abstract Most modern knowledge is not science. The physical sciences have successfully validated theories to infer they can be used universally to predict in previously unexperienced circumstances. According to the conventional conception of science such inferences are falsified by a single irregular outcome. And verification is by the scientific method which requires strict regularity of outcome and establishes cause and effect. Medicine, medical research and many “soft” sciences are concerned with individual people in complex heterogeneous populations. These populations cannot be tested to demonstrate strict regularity of outcome in every individual. Neither randomised controlled trials nor observational studies in medicine are science in the conventional conception. Establishing and using medical and other “soft science” theories cannot be scientific. It requires conceptually different means: requiring expert judgement applying all available evidence in the relevant available factual matrix. The practice of medicine is observational. Prediction of outcomes for the individual requires professional expertise applying available medical knowledge and evidence. Expertise in any profession can only be acquired through experience. Prior cases are the fundament of knowledge and expertise in medicine. Case histories, studies and series can provide knowledge of extremely high reliability applicable to establishing reliable general theories and falsifying others. Their collation, study and analysis should be a priority in medicine. Their devaluation as evidence, the failure to apply their lessons, the devaluation of expert professional judgement and the attempt to emulate the scientific method are all historic errors in the theory and practice of modern medicine.
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Archival date: 2018-03-02
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