From Child Protection to Paradigm Protection—The Genesis, Development, and Defense of a Scientific Paradigm

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 44 (3):378-390 (2019)
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A scientific paradigm typically embraces research norms and values, such as truth-seeking, critical thinking, disinterestedness, and good scientific practice. These values should prevent a paradigm from introducing defective assumptions. But sometimes, scientists who are also physicians develop clinical norms that are in conflict with the scientific enterprise. As an example of such a conflict, we have analyzed the genesis and development of the shaken baby syndrome paradigm. The point of departure of the analysis is a recently conducted systematic literature review, which concluded that there is very low scientific evidence for the basic assumption held by Child Protection Teams: when certain signs are present the infant has been violently shaken. We suggest that such teams have developed more value-based than scientific-based criteria when classifying SBS cases. Further, we suggest that the teams are victims of “groupthink,” aggravating the difficulties in considering critics’ questioning the criteria established by the teams.



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