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Is drug addiction really a disease? Is sexuality inborn and fixed or mutable? Science is where we often turn when we can't achieve moral clarity. In The Noble Lie, acclaimed and controversial science writer Gary Greenberg shows how scientists try to use their findings to resolve the dilemmas raised by some of the most hotly contested issues of our time, from gay rights to euthanasia and the drug war. He reveals how their answers often turn out to be more fiction than science—and explores whether they cause more harm than good.
Has science replaced religion for a modern society unwilling to bear moral responsibility? Questions of life and death lie in doctors' hands. Even a diagnosis, says science writer and psychologist Greenberg, is a moral statement: the doctor is "telling you what's wrong with your life and how to fix it." This unconvincing statement exemplifies Greenberg's difficulties in his muddled attempt to grapple with our faith in scientific truth. Diseases are invented, not discovered, he claims. By exploring various medical issues-such as addiction, depression, brain death-he tries to demonstrate that "deciding which suffering should be relieved and how is not as simple as applying a stethoscope to a chest"-hardly an original idea. The truth becomes a casualty of organized medicine's need to provide relief to all who say they are suffering, and that need is institutionalized and commercialized by structures like the FDA and the drug industry. The "noble lie" inherent in the treatments offered for common diagnoses can't last, says the author. But while Greenberg's questions about the scientific validity of medical research and treatments are urgent, they have been explored more capably and cogently elsewhere. (Sept.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
1. Addiction: Visions of Healing.
2. Depression: In the Magic Factory.
3. Sexual Orientation: Gay Science.
4. Schizophrenia: In the Kingdom of the Unabomber.
5. Brain Death: As Good as Dead.
6. Persistent Vegetative State: Back From the Dead.
7. Mortality: We'll All Wake Up Together.