‘ “The Crucifixion of Brother Peter”: Moral Claims and Religious Imagery in Two Competing Narratives about the Cochrane Collaboration’ – 17 February 2020

In 2018, a so-called crisis developed in the Cochrane network of systematic reviewers. It was widely depicted in terms of two competing narratives – [a] “bad behaviour” by one individual and [b] scientific and moral decline within Cochrane. This presentation will report the attempt of an interdisciplinary group of scholars (from medicine, sociology, critical management studies and science and technology studies) to distil insights on the structural, ethical and linguistic issues underpinning the crisis, without taking a definitive position on the accuracy of either narrative. Having framed the conflict as primarily philosophical and political rather than methodological, the author will use the seminar series’ theme of ‘translation’ to illustrate how the scholars on both poles of this divide might harness their tensions productively.

Trish Greenhalgh is Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences and Fellow of Green Templeton College, University of Oxford. She is Co-Director of the Interdisciplinary Research in Health Sciences (IRIHS) Unit, a programme of research at the interface between social sciences and medicine. She was awarded the OBE for Services to Medicine in 2001 and made a Fellow of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences in 2014.

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