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Classic examples of failed “common sense” in medicine

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of PainScience.com: a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

Common sense is dead to medicine—dead wrong embarrassingly often. Here are some classic examples:

Tip of the iceberg, there. No doubt one could make a full book out of examples of failed common sense in medicine. Send me a note if you can think of another good example.

Major examples of failed common sense are tougher to find in more recent medical history, but there’s an avalanche of them if you go further back. For example, until the 1970s, it was “obvious” to psychiatrists that a cold mothering style caused schizophrenia. Was that a failing of their “common sense,” or just priveleged, elitist douchebaggery? It was both: common sense is based on values and culture, then and now. Go back far enough, and the common sense of the past always seems outrageous, because of the values gap. But make no mistake, it was common sense to them!

Another tip of another iceberg: failed common sense in musculoskeletal medicine

Citations for only a couple highlights here (because this is just a quick overview of topics discussed in much detail elsewhere on the site).

Another tip of another iceberg.

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