Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet
S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; Journal
Review Editor: Brenda L. Seago, MLS, MA, Medical College of Virginia Campus,
Virginia Commonwealth University.
The ways of sociologists differ from those of physicians (and biologists
and other “hard” scientists), so readers of JAMA might be impatient with or even confused by the premise of Accounts of Innocence. Physicians typically think that
their beliefs (eg, antibiotic A is better than antibiotic B for treating a
particular infection) and belief systems (eg, some diseases are caused by
bacteria and viruses) are based on data that have been properly collected
through controlled experiments. Sociologists, however, think that some beliefs—even
in medicine—are not based on research data at all but are simply opinions
expressed in the media or by influential spokespersons, which are adopted
by both the general public and the professional community. To bluntly state
the sociological perspective, medical beliefs are part science and part contemporary
myth and legend.
Bernet W. Sexual Abuse. JAMA. 2005;293(24):3107-3112. doi:10.1001/jama.293.24.3110