Top critical review
Good, solid, quick read, but too short to be excellent
Reviewed in the United States on June 14, 2019
Have you ever wondered what makes people orient to their worlds differently? Such is the realm of philosophy. This book attempts to turn medical thought – what makes doctors act the way they do – into a philosophy. Admittedly, it’s just a beginning, but this quick read explains a lot about how healthcare works today.
In this short series of essays, Mukherjee defines three “laws.” (1) “A strong intuition is much more powerful than a weak test.” (2) “‘Normals’ teach us rules; ‘outliers’ teach us laws.” And (3) “for every perfect medical experiment, there is a perfect human bias.”
Mukherjee describes each of these with plenty of examples from medical history or from contemporary medical practice. MDs will really enjoy interacting with the thought of this noteworthy cancer physician and researcher. Others involved in the noble professions that better human health will benefit from learning the philosophical framework this book proposes. Finally, the reading public will benefit from seeing how these philosophical principles, which are fundamental to medical science, interact with contemporary society.
The only thing I am left craving is a more in-depth analysis. In this work, one can easily see the cusp of medical practice as it moves forward. Nonetheless, this view of the cusp is not rooted in a deep historical analysis. As a short introduction to a topic (TED Books market themselves as “Small books, big ideas”), this book works, but as a transformative work that changes the future behavior of the human race, it lacks. Not every book needs to change the world, but part of a book’s mission is to open new lenses through which one can see. Perhaps I am out of step with today’s instantaneous age, but I prefer deep books with big ideas more.