Friday, December 4, 2009

The Smartest Lie: Lord Winston, Super Doctors & The Dark Side

Adults lie!

We know that and we have been reminded of it most days by the media in one way or another. This can be very disturbing if someone you do not expect to lie was found to have done so.

Do children lie? A question I have often been asked especially as a child psychiatrist.

It would be nice to be able to think that children do not lie. Our job would be so much easier.

But they do lie and if we as specialists do not realise that, what would the child think of us as doctors!!!

The “lying” could take various forms and faking illness is of course one that I had to deal with in my clinical practice.

About ten years ago, Professor Winston (now Lord Winston) showed in a BBC series how even very young children lie:

“Around 70% of three-year-olds who are told not to peek at a new toy when an adult leaves the room do so and then lie that they have not looked.

‘The smartest lie,’ says Professor Winston.”

It was a slightly cruel demonstration as an electrical train set was set in motion behind the child. You need to be quite stupid to follow instructions.

At 9/11 the few that did not follow instructions by the police to return to the second tower survived.                                                                                          
Last year the BBC produced a new series with Lord Winston entitled Super Doctors and he was interviewed for an article in The Telegraph.

Winston was sceptical about medical infallibility, having just survived a brush with cancer. “Last year he noticed that a mole on his skin was growing. ‘I went to see a very good dermatologist who told me that there was nothing to worry about, it was a viral infection.

I used to think we have well trained doctors!

‘Then, last August, when I was in New Zealand, it began spreading rapidly. It was several weeks before I was back and could be operated upon. Fortunately, it wasn't a melanoma. Had it been, I would have been in trouble.’

“The skin cancer was on his shin. Hidden away under his trousers, I can't imagine it ever sees much sun unless he toasts it under a lamp. He nods. ‘This won't be very popular with Cancer Research UK, but there is some doubt whether sunbathing makes a massive difference. We may be overplaying the role of the sun.’

“Apparent medical certainties, Winston explains, may have more to do with doctors building reputations or making money than real evidence.”

On the topic that he knows a lot of: IVF

"IVF is very commercial. The people doing it are among the best- paid in medicine: they charge a lot per treatment and it's not in their interest to make it more effective. Having people fail means that they come back again."

Winston was not part of this plot to exploit infertile couples because private practice was frowned on at Hammersmith Hospital where he, and others, focused on research - but surely he should have spoken out?

‘Two years ago, when I was making Child Against All the Odds, the BBC said it didn't want me to raise these issues,’ he says sheepishly.

Is holding back the truth “lying”?

What about an autobiography?

 "Christ, no. I couldn't afford to be truthful. All of us have a very dark side, so it would have to be superficial."


Anonymous said...


My name is Barbara O’ Brien and my blogging at The Mahablog, Crooks and Liars, AlterNet, and elsewhere on the progressive political and health blogophere has earned me the notoriety of being a panelist at the Yearly Kos Convention and a featured guest blogger at the Take Back America Conference in Washington, DC.

I’m contacting you because I found your site in a prominent health reform blog search and want to tell you about my newest blogging platform —the public concern of health care and its reform. Our shared concerns include health reform, tort reform, public health, safe workplaces, and asbestos contamination.

To increase awareness on these important issues, my goal is to get a resource link on your site or even allow me to provide a guest posting. Please contact me back, I hope to hear from you soon. Drop by our site in the meantime—


Barbara O’ Brien

me said...

just linked this article on my facebook account. it’s a very interesting article for all.
doctors online