A Popperian perspective of the term 'evidence-based medicine'

Eyal Shahar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


If the term 'evidence-based medicine' conveys more than is conveyed by the word medicine, then there must be a way to distinguish between evidence-based medicine and non-evidence-based medicine. In particular, there must be a logically acceptable way to classify medical decisions as justified or unjustified by scientific evidence. In this essay I examine the nature of medical theories, the nature of the evidence that is produced by empirical tests of medical theories, and the relation of medical decisions to both. I conclude that attempts to classify medical decisions as justified or unjustified by scientific evidence have no foundation in logic and that the term 'evidence-based medicine' is logically indistinguishable from the term 'medicine'. The use of the term 'evidence-based medicine' calls for a new type of authoritarianism in medical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-116
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Empirical tests
  • Evidence-based medicine
  • Medical hypotheses
  • Medicine
  • Statistical inference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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