At the Parabola Arts Centre
Medicine Unboxed 2012 explores belief - how our beliefs around illness are informed by science, reason, faith and the imagination, how such paradigms complement or conflict with one another, and how belief relates to truth and certainty in medicine.
In an evidence-based era, how much do medical decisions still rest upon doctors’and patients’ personal beliefs? Indeed, how free are reason and evidence from constructs of belief? Is modern medicine fostering a belief that death can be indefinitely postponed and all suffering finally avoided? Does scientific medicine allow doubt, humility and the admission of uncertainty? What is the pull towards alternative medicine and is this legitimate? Does a patient’s belief in their practitioner or intervention impact on the therapeutic outcome? Can widely disparate beliefs still be considered similarly rational? Is patient autonomy questioned primarily when beliefs conflict with medical advice? Are ethical decisions the province of subjective beliefs and emotions or ought they to be resolvable through rational analysis? If so, why do arguments such as the one over euthanasia seem so intractable? Are certain religious beliefs deserving of greater respect than others? Is there such a thing as secular moral truth? How can political belief and ideology shape healthcare and society’s expectations of it?
If the truth about illness exceeds simple facts about disease - might reason, science, religion, art and the imagination converge to illuminate important beliefs about medicine?
Marius Brill novelist, journalist and film-maker who is interested in neuroscience, conjuring, hustles, deception, illusion and the nature of love.
Rupert Sheldrake biologist and author of more than 80 scientific papers and ten books. His most recent book, The Science Delusion, challenges what he sees as entrenched paradigms and dogmas of the scientific worldview.
Tim Parks has written fourteen novels. His most recent book, Teach Us to Sit Still is a personal exploration of the relationship between mind and body and our attitudes to sickness and health.
Richard Holloway former Bishop of Edinburgh and Primus of the Scottish Episcopalian Church. He is a reviewer and writer for the Guardian, Scotsman and Herald newspapers, Times, Independent, a frequent broadcaster on radio and television, and a presenter of several BBC series.
Charles Fernyhough writer and academic psychologist. His latest novel A Box of Birds is forthcoming from Unbound.
Rhidian Brook novelist, screenwriter and broadcaster. He is the author of two novels: The Testimony of Taliesin Jones - winner of the 1997 Somerset Maugham Award, a Betty Trask Award and the Author's Club First Novel Award - and Jesus and the Adman. His first feature film Africa United was released in the UK on 22 October 2010. He has also written articles on faith, travel, social issues and education for The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Observer and others.
Iona Heath has held several roles in the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) including chair of the Ethics Committee, the International Committee, and the Health Inequalities Standing Group. She was vice chair of the college and in 2009 was elected college president. She chaired the BMJ Ethics Committee 2004 to 2009 and writes a regular column for the BMJ.
Ray Tallis philosopher, poet, novelist and cultural critic who was until recently a physician and clinical scientist. Over the last 20 years he has published fiction, three volumes of poetry, and 23 books on the philosophy of mind, philosophical anthropology, literary theory, the nature of art and cultural criticism. His most recent book, Aping Mankind, strongly contests the notion that human consciousness can be understood entirely in terms of neurobiology.
Jo Shapcott poet, editor and lecturer who has won the National Poetry Competition, the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, the Costa Book of the Year Award, a Forward Poetry Prize and the Cholmondeley Award. In 2011 she was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for poetry.
Jane McNaughton Director of the Centre for Arts and Humanities in Health and Medicine (CAHHM) at Durham University. Her research interests include community based arts in health, art work in hospital environments and she also works closely on literature and medicine projects with the department of English Studies at the Durham, including, in 2006, a Public Lecture Series with the title Flesh and Blood: the Body and the Arts. She is joint editor of the journal Medical Humanities.
Adam Kay doctor, musician and comedian, who started performing in 1998 at medical school, quickly becoming well-known amongst the medical community. Abandoning medical in-jokes for songs with wider appeal, Adam first appeared at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2005, achieving a sell-out run. He has since sold out Edinburgh runs in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010, as well as nationwide UK tours.
Richard Horton editor of The Lancet, first President of the World Association of Medical Editors and Past-President of the US Council of Science Editors. He is an honorary professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University College London, and the University of Edinburgh. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and a Founder Fellow of the UK's Academy of Medical Sciences. In 2007, he received the Edinburgh Medal and in 2008 he was appointed a Senior Associate of The Nuffield Trust. He writes regularly for the Times Literary Supplement and New York Review of Books.
Colin Leys honorary professor at Goldsmiths University of London. He is the author of Market Driven Politics: Neoliberal Democracy and the Public Interest (Verso 2001), and with Stewart Player, The Plot Against the NHS (Merlin Press 2011).
Matthew Flinders Professor of Politics at the University of Sheffield and writer and broadcaster. He has made numerous contributions to national newspapers, including The Times and The Guardian, and in 2011 he wrote and presented a three-part series for BBC Radio 4 In Defence of Politics.
Clare Short MP for Birmingham Ladywood from 1983 to 2010 and Secretary of State for International Development from 1997 to May 2003. She stood down from Parliament in 2010, and is now active in various organisations working on slum upgrading in the developing world, transparency in oil, gas and mining, African-led humanitarian action, destitute asylum-seekers in Birmingham, Trade Justice for the developing world and for a just settlement of the Palestinian/ Israeli conflict.