Diane O'Leary – “All in Your Head”: Medicine’s Worrisome Struggle with Subjective Evidence
Diane O'Leary

November 21, 2019, 7:00pm - 8:30pm
Rotman Institute of Philosophy, Western University

Stevenson & Hunt Room A
251 Dundas st
London N6A 6H9


  • London Public Library
  • Department of Philosophy-Western University


Perhaps at no other time in history has information been more widely & easily accessible. But how reliable is it? What do we do when confronted with fundamental disagreement about matters of social importance, including climate change and vaccination? Whom should we trust? Experts might help us. But who counts as an expert? Our experiences of our own bodies and our surroundings gives us a great deal of information. But what happens when our experience is at odds with what we’re told by doctors or other experts? When should expertise prevail? This series will examine the complex interplay of personal experience, evidence & belief in a variety of different contexts.

Up to half of outpatients suffer from illness that has not been explained by objective medical tests. Practice guidelines suggest these symptoms must have psychological causes, but is it safe for medicine to reject evidence of disease when it’s purely subjective? In this presentation I’ll clarify problems with the science, and the safety, of “all in your head”.

Each year, the Rotman Institute of Philosophy and the Department of Philosophy at Western University organize a public lecture series, co-sponsored with the London Public Library. The theme for this year’s lecture series is evidence & belief. All lectures will be held in the Stevenson & Hunt Room at Central Library, on Thursday evenings in November, from 7 – 8:30 pm. Attendance will be free and open to the general public. Advance registration is not required.

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