Link between MS and sex puts neurologist in the hot seat
Geoff Watts looks at how an experts hypothesis became highly controversial
The time when medical journals were exclusively read by doctors is no longer. The press unearthed a public taste for the clever doings of their doctors. The hacks began to scan the learned journals in search of titbits.
The journals—most of them commercial enterprises as dependent on being read as the Sun or the Mirror—decided to help out by picking what they judged to be the best or most intriguing stuff and issuing press releases. In this way, much useful information is routinely disseminated. Research charities are able to flag up their work and raise more money. Many a consultant ego has been pleasantly tickled. Everyone is happy. So publicising medical journals has proved to be a Good Thing.
Alas, even the best Good Things have downsides, as one Essex neurologist has discovered. If Christopher Hawkes had published his short report in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry 50