Category Archives: Lancet (journal)

No China, no North Korea…

The fate of Mussolini

…and no North Korea, Kim Jong-un hanged from the nearest lamp-post.

Certainly, says Dalrymple, there will be no more men

standing behind Kim and taking down his precious words in their notebooks. (On hospital visits, not a word of that wisdom must be lost for posterity; when Kim speaks, the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine are redundant.)

There will be no more men

taking notes of the pearls of medical wisdom and advice that fall from Kim’s lips.

There will be no more notebooks at the ready,

taking down Kim’s immortal vapourings.

There wil be no more

guidance for orthopædic surgeons on how to treat the injured.

There will be no more of this on the great day of the fall of the North Korean tyranny.

Pearls of medical wisdom and advice fall from the lips of the Supreme Leader (and behind him, in the display cabinet, adequate supplies of liquor — the reward of eloquence)

Obituary: Theodore Dalrymple

Melaten-Friedhof cemetery, Cologne

Dalrymple supposes that a doctor

is growing middle-aged when he goes straight to the obituary columns of the British Medical Journal and the Lancet instead of to the scientific papers, and starts to recognise the names that appear there.

Dalrymple is

a devotee of medical obituaries, with their mixture of post-mortem piety and snide remarks. They have a language of their own.

He recalls the Lancet obituary of a recently deceased physician,

from whose passport photograph alone it was possible to deduce that he had been a mean-spirited, bullying, pedantic stuffed shirt.

By The Death Bed, 1893. Munch Museum, Oslo

The obituary read:

Though not immediately likeable, those who knew him well detected many sterling qualities.

Dalrymple, while describing himself as one of

the highly replaceable dregs of the profession,

has not given up hope of an obituary, for this reason: he has discovered that the BMJ‘s obituary pages carry this italicised note to authors: ‘Self-written obituaries are welcome.’ What, then, he asks, should he write of himself? Perhaps

Outwardly he often appeared compassionate towards his patients, but inwardly he was seething with irritation that they should have been so feckless, foolish, ignorant, fat, importuning, immature and unrealistic.


Sometimes he wanted to have an affair with a patient, but he always resisted the temptation, unlike some other doctors he could name.

The Lancet in the old days

Dalrymple enjoys Simenon’s 1960 novel Maigret et les Vieillards, which opens with the commissioner having dinner with his friends Dr and Mrs Pardon. The doctor remarks that the Lancet, ‘the austere English medical journal’, has mentioned the great police detective. Dalrymple asks: ‘Would anyone use the word “austere” to describe the journal now?’

A rapists’ charter

Ann M. Starrs

Ann M. Starrs: flatulent and at the same time chilling

Starry night

Dalrymple points out that some of the quotations (from articles inside the journal) found on the cover of the Lancet are

of such an unctuous sententiousness that they make Mr Podsnap seem like a neurotic self-doubter. They are usually inexact, flatulent, self-important, and frequently stupid.

He cites a passage taken from the article A Lancet Commission on sexual and reproductive health and rights: going beyond the Sustainable Development Goals. It is the work of Ann M. Starrs, described as president and chief executive officer of something called the Guttmacher Institute, which appears to be devoted to advancing the cause of abortion. Starrs’ words are considered so luminous that the Lancet’s editor reproduces them in large type on the front page:

Screen Shot 2015-09-26 at 09.10.37

The Lancet: self-important and frequently stupid

Ann M. Starrs’ Declaration of Sexual Rights

Sexuality and reproduction are universal concerns that affect every human being. Although there has been great progress in recent decades, the global community must now expedite and expand that progress to be more inclusive and comprehensive. A new agenda for sexual and reproductive health and rights is needed that recognises the full scope of people’s sexual and reproductive health needs, and enables all people to choose whether, when, and with whom to engage in sexual activity; to choose whether and when to have children; and to access the means to do so in good health.

The emotion in the reader of this, writes Dalrymple,

is similar to that aroused by a badly scratched record or a whining child.

The purpose of Starrs’ words, he points out,

is to create in the reader the impression of the writer as generous and broad-minded, denial of whose principles establishes him who would deny them as a bigot.

Yet Starrs’ words are

Screen Shot 2015-09-26 at 09.20.16

No perversion is too perverse for Ann M. Starrs

a rapists’ charter; no perversion is too perverse to fall under their permissive rubric.

Dalrymple notes that there have been men who have been able to achieve orgasm only by

  • derailing trains, or
  • paddling their hands in the entrails of the people they have killed

He asks:

Ought the full scope of their sexual needs have been met?

Dalrymple says:

That people ought to be able to have sex when they choose, with whom they choose, entails that they should be able to force themselves on others even in public. There can be no when without a corresponding where, for sexual desire (impossible to distinguish from need) does not always arise at moments hitherto considered appropriate.

He concludes:

From the fate of children under this regime of inalienable rights to be included in the proposed Declaration of Sexual Rights, it is best to avert one’s mind.

Let’s be moral

Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 14.26.34These words, writes Dalrymple, ought to be inscribed over the entrance to the premises of that Pecksniffian journal, the Lancet.

The editor of the Lancet is a Pecksniffian bore

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 01.44.05It must be a terrible thing, writes Dalrymple,

to have such boring thoughts, not occasionally but repeatedly, if not constantly, and feel obliged to express them.