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The only thing more dangerous than an idea is a belief

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51W9n1cV2tL._SS500_.jpgThat’s how author Sarah Vowell opens her terrific book, “The Wordy Shipmates,” which I just read. I’ve seen her interviewed but had never read one of her books. Now I can’t wait to jump into the next one.

That opening line was used by one of our medical editors, Dr. John Wong, in reviewing a health news story a while back.

It fits. It especially fits in the context of medicine – or of health journalism, for that matter – when we hear from people whose beliefs or intuition cloud their view of evidence. We’ve seen that quite a bit in discussion of various screening tests recently.

Vowell’s book, about Puritans coming to America, is thought-provoking throughout on that opening theme of the danger of a belief.

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Patricia Laffin

February 8, 2012 at 11:58 am

Really? You liked this book? It’s a hate-filled political rant with no attempt at truly understanding the Puritans, or anything else for that matter. It’s just filled with the author’s smug, self-righteous views disguised as a serious book.

    Gary Schwitzer

    February 8, 2012 at 9:30 pm


    Yeah, I really liked the book. I didn’t see anything hate-filled in it.

    Guess this is why we have the marketplace of ideas and a free and open exchange that doesn’t always end in agreement.