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Sunday Lecture - Irrational beliefs in the NHS

Why do hospitals miss out bed 13 and why do surgeons operate upon healthy genitals?
Dr Edward Presswood explores the persistent intrusion of irrational beliefs into healthcare.

Throughout his medical practice Dr Edward Presswood has been alarmed by the persistent intrusion of irrational beliefs into healthcare. He has seen vulnerable patients forgo evidence-based therapies, instead falling for the claims made by reiki healers and homeopaths. He has witnessed a lack of funding for evidence-based therapies whilst precious NHS resources are diverted towards alternative medicine. Health policy is shackled by religious concerns rather than focusing upon what is best for patients and society. For example religious doctrines oppose: stem-cell research, contraception, abortion and assisted dying.
Edward believes that many of the irrational beliefs within healthcare are well intentioned but this does not prevent them from being harmful. There is a danger that a patient’s autonomy is trumped by the wishes of their family, their religion and even their doctor. There should be an evidence-based approach to healthcare and a greater emphasis upon secular values: everyone should have freedom of religion, but also, freedom from religion.
Starting from the benign observation that hospitals pander to superstitious beliefs by missing out bed number 13, Edward goes on to show that irrational beliefs distort medical practice in more serious ways, even permitting the ritual cutting of a child’s genitals to appease religious dogma.


Dr Ed Presswood | talks


Date and Time:

21 April 2013 at 11:00 am


2 hours



Conway Hall
25 Red Lion Square
020 7242 8032

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Available from:

Entry is on the door and is free to Conway Hall Ethical Society members

Additional Information:

Bottomless Tea & Coffee will be available.

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