The world would be different today had “medical misinformation” been disallowed in the past as is now proposed in California (“California’s Medical ‘Misinformation’ Crusade Could Cost Lives” by Allysia Finley, op-ed, April 21). Smoking would be embraced by clinicians.
In 1959 the editor in chief of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, wrote, “Neither the proponents nor the opponents of the smoking theory have sufficient evidence to warrant the assumption of an all-or-none authoritative position.” In 1958 the leading expert on statistical analysis,
wrote in Nature, “Unfortunately, considerable propaganda is now being developed to convince the public that cigarette smoking is dangerous.” Imagine if doctors would have lost their medical licenses for disagreeing with the expert opinion.
With Covid-19, honesty about what we know and don’t know would have been better than forced mandates. Had leaders been forthright about the limited efficacy of masks, the public may have been much more accepting of interventions with overwhelming evidence of success like vaccines. Suppressing dissenting views will only foster greater skepticism within the public at large.
Edward H. Livingston
UCLA School of Medicine
Mainstream science is often wrong. Consider stomach ulcers, long thought to be caused by stress and lifestyle factors. Then Australian physicians
deciphered the role of the bacterium h. pylori. Famously, Dr. Marshall infected himself with it, developed acute gastritis and published his results in 1985. But it was years before it was widely accepted that h. pylori caused most ulcers and could be treated with antibiotics. What if Australian medical officials in the 1980s had the power to take action against doctors who spread “misinformation”?
Ann Arbor, Mich.
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Appeared in the May 2, 2022, print edition as ‘Censorship Is Destructive to Medical Science.’