Therapeutic nihilism - the belief that we have no effective medical cures at all, or no cure for some condition - has recently arisen about clinical depression. Most famously, University of Hull professor Irvin Kirsch and colleagues argued in a recent meta-analysis published in PLoS Medicine that, when previously unpublished data are taken into account, there is no evidence that antidepressants have clinically significant benefits over placebo. (It is important to note that there is a strong placebo effect, so in a sense we do have a somewhat effective remedy - it's just not pharmacological).
The 36th Maudsley Debate (mp3 here), held at King's College London, considered this question in the form of the motion "This House Believes Antidepressants are no Better than Placebo." Irvin Kirsch and Joanna Moncrieff (of University College London) argued for the motion and Lewis Wolpert (of King's College) and Guy Goodwin (of Oxford) against. From my lay perspective, Kirsch won the debate hands down. While I thought Goodwin raised a bunch of interesting methodological points, I don't think they were decisive and he did commit several fallacies (the appeal to consequences, most prominently). Moncrieff's argument, on the other hand, was rather weird and somewhat beside the point. And Wolpert, I thought, was pretty bad: he was impassioned and entertaining, to be sure, but his substantive argument was shot through with fallacies and factual inaccuracies.
In any case, give the debate a listen. What do you think?
(Via The Mouse Trap).