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The great fraud of Andrew Wakefield

At the outset I should declare some potential conflicts of interest. I have long been a proponent of immunisation. I have chaired the national immunisation advisory committee at the RCPI. I have run a so-called ‘high-risk’ vaccination clinic at Children’s Hospital Temple Street for concerned parents and general practitioners over several years during the MMR…

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How to stop worrying about the end of the world

TITLE: Notes from An Apocalypse: A Personal Journey to the End of the World and Back AUTHOR: Mark O’Connell PUBLISHER: Granta Publications (2020) REVIEWER: Prof Brendan Kelly The Covid-19 pandemic changed everything. Or did it? There is no doubt that the outbreak, which started in China in late 2019, turned our world upside down within…

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Reflections of a Nobel laureate

Title: Catching the worm: Towards ending river blindness and reflections on my life Author: Prof William C Campbell, with Claire O’Connell Publisher: Royal Irish Academy Reviewer: Prof Seamus O’Mahony Prof William Cecil Campbell is the only Irishman to have been awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. He and Satoshi Ōmura shared the award…

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The charm of the fictional psychopath

Title: ‘Psychopath? Why We Are Charmed by the Anti-Hero’ Author: Dr Stephen McWilliams Publisher: Mercier Press 2020 Reviewer: Prof Brendan Kelly In real life, psychopaths commonly leave a trail of terrible destruction in their wake: Emotional chaos, financial ruin and – in the worst cases – the obliteration of innocent lives. In fiction and film,…

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IMO to warn Oireachtas Covid committee that health services ‘facing perfect storm’

The IMO will today warn the special Oireachtas committee on Covid-19 that the pandemic’s effect on healthcare will result in negative health outcomes unless immediate and sustained investment in building capacity is undertaken. The meeting is scheduled for midday.  Representatives from the IMO will warn that an investment programme is urgently needed to: Provide 5,000 additional public acute beds and at…

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The question of happiness

Title: Can We Be Happier? Evidence and Ethics Author: Richard Layard Publisher: Pelican (2020) Reviewer: Prof Brendan Kelly Can We Be Happier? Evidence and Ethics is the new book by Richard Layard, a labour economist who worked for most of his life on how to reduce unemployment and inequality. Most recently, Layard has become known…

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Book review: War Doctor

Aleppo, Syria, 2013. Consultant surgeon Mr David Nott is in theatre suturing the pulmonary vein of a wounded patient when six armed men in black combat fatigues burst in: “They were obviously ISIS fighters, and the patient on the table was one of them… It was all I could do to keep my legs from…

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The value of logic

Title: The Irrational Ape: Why Flawed Logic Puts Us All at Risk and How Critical Thinking Can Save the World Author: David Robert Grimes Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2019) Reviewer: Prof Brendan Kelly Every few years, a new book appears telling us that we need to think more clearly, more logically and more critically. The…

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