Healthcare: plagiarism and expertise
Sir Isaac Newton said he saw further than others by "standing on ye shoulders of giants" thereby acknowledging his sources and influences. Celebrity psychiatrist Dr. Raj Persaud seems to have attempted an easier ascent by using ye copy and paste on the published work of others without such clear acknowledgment.
But giving Dr. Persaud a kicking is not on my mind. I am more interested in the reaction to the GMC's decision.
The UK media are notorious for building up celebrities only to bring them crashing down. However, in this case the journalists seem to have wriggled uneasily in their ergonomic chairs. A web search will reveal the majority of the coverage is ambivalent, many journalists and others trying to deflect the debate by saying what a good chap Dr. Persaud is and that blatant plagiarism does not mean he is not a good doctor. Fair enough, but let's stay on topic, guys.
In the main, journalists earn expert status vicariously. It takes about 10 years of intensive work to be considered an expert in a field, and few journalists--particularly in healthcare IT--have that experience. Hence, we get the phenomemon of journalists interviewing other journalists, who are meant to be experts but in reality have a superficial understanding of their subject. It is no longer necessary to invest 10 years to be considered an expert. A few hours of web searching and mugging up can give that impression without the hard graft.
Comments allegedly made by Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan encapsulate my area of concern. It was on their TV programme--which considers itself qualified to comment on life, the universe and everything--that Dr.Persaud first came to media prominence. They have stated they wish to continue working with Dr. Persaud. So it seems professional honesty comes second to presentation skill. Is the Internet taking us to a form of celebrity medicine where the ignorant are led by the superficially informed?