18 June 2011

Talk by libel hero Peter Wilmshurst!

Peter Wilmshurst, previously the subject of a malicious libel suit by the now-defunct medical devices company NMT Medical (there IS a god, LOL!), will be giving a talk in Cardiff on "Dishonesty in Medicine" on 26 June. Should be an excellent talk, and your BMA rep should attend, as it is far more important than the official faithy alternative. Here are the details (courtesy of Ant Lempert of the Secular Medical Forum):

Peter has kindly agreed to come and speak at a Secular Medical Forum (SMF)-hosted event in Cardiff on Sunday 26th June. He will speak about 'Dishonesty in Medicine', a topic he's had more than his fair share of involvement with and for which he won the 2003 Healthwatch award.

The SMF welcome reception coincides with the BMA's own Reflection and Thanksgiving Service/Meeting (RATS) which traditionally takes place before the official start of the Annual Representatives Meeting (ARM). In previous years, the BMA has publicised the SMF welcome reception but this year they have refused to do so. Their refusal may relate to some awkward questions we have put to them about the religious format and funding of the RATS and the reason why special status is given to this one 'fringe' meeting when no other fringe meeting is funded by the BMA. These questions remain unanswered.

Whatever your views of the BMA, Peter Wilmshurst is an excellent speaker, the meeting is being held in a private venue paid for by the SMF and is not restricted to BMA members so please come along.

The BMA ARM organisers would prefer that representatives came to their faith-based meeting than to hear Peter Wilmshurst talk about dishonesty in medicine. Please tell your local BMA reps about this meeting.

Sunday 26th June 17:45-18:45
Civic Suite 4, Park Plaza Hotel
Greyfriars Road, Cardiff, CF10 3AL

07 June 2011

Goodies over at Genomes Unzipped

The fine chaps and chapesses at Genomes Unzipped have a few guest bloggers writing excellent posts about the implications of cheap and quick genome sequencing. I don't think I have opined much on this topic on my own blog, but I'm turning into a bit of a genome bore on other people's blogs. Do your civic duty, and dilute my inane comments with some of your own! I particularly liked Clive Jones's recent post, but Adam Rutherford's is also good.

Genetics is entering a new era; Clive calls it "disruptive" - in the same way as mobile phones were a disruptive technology that totally changed the communications sector. I agree. This is where medicine is at, and we need to think smart to maximise the benefits.

04 June 2011

My new philosophy pals: any comment?

I'm delighted to welcome some philosophers to my humble blog, and thank them for their astute (for the most part!) comments on my little post about Sausages. It seems a chord of sorts has been struck, which is a good thing (don't sweat what I mean by "good", folks. I wear my heart on my sleeve).

I would now like to divert some of the learned attention towards a previous post on my blog: "THINGS do not possess ATTRIBUTES; SYSTEMS exhibit BEHAVIOURS". I respectfully propose that much of what is thought of as "analytic philosophy" is playing with words that may or may not be good labels for their proposed referents, and may change meaning over the course of the argument, rendering an apparently valid argument pants (in a new terminological structure). The solution is to remember that things in our world are in fact systems; attributes are not sensible things to attach to them. Like "redness", "softness" etc - these are not attributes that things possess, but descriptors of behaviours when these systems interact with other systems. That changes the game somewhat.

Discuss :-)

02 June 2011

Show me the Sausages!

A philosopher designs a marvellous sausage machine. A scientist comes to marvel at this wonderful creation, and raises an eyebrow.
The philosopher says, "Ah, behold the wonderful cogs and sprockets and temperature-controlled mixing chambers in my wonderful machine - surely you can see how it must produce the most fantastic sausages!"
The scientist says "Yes, that is all very interesting. Show me the sausages."
The philosopher says "How dare you, a mere scientist, question my wonderful philosophical reasoning?"
Scientist: "I'm not questioning your reasoning - I want to know if your machine really produces sausages."
Philosopher: "Can you point to any flaw in my argument that it produces sausages?"
Sci: "I don't know - I just want to know if it produces sausages. Here is some meat. Why don't you feed it through and see if you get any sausages?"
Phil: "And sully my wonderful machine with mere offal?"
Sci: "You said it was a sausage machine. I want to see the sausages."
Phil: "Are you questioning my ingredients?"
Sci: "I'm just questioning whether it produces sausages or not. Show me the sausages."
Phil: "Ah, so you cannot attack my premises and you cannot attack my argument. Therefore I'm right and you lose."
Sci: "Don't be such a melodramatic prancing arse. Show me the sausages."
Phil: "The sausages inevitably flow from the argument. You see my fine machine.  You can even inspect the meat & onions. The sausages necessarily flow."
Sci: "Show me the sausages or I'm off to Tesco."
Phil: "You are a mere scientist with no understanding of philosophical matters."
Sci: "Bye."