I can't believe how much negativity otherwise intelligent medical students have about this concept... it seems totally logical to me that of course we should test treatments to see if they are actually doing any good to patients (or indeed harming them). I remember my non medic friends in my days before medical school about various symptoms 'well of course its that that caused it' don't they realise that it is precisely that kind of thinking that the profession (and the public) needs to get away from? (Incidentally they were wrong, but that is besides the point). They may laugh about leeches and blood-letting but if we don't test the treatments properly, how do we know that we aren't just using modern day versions of leeches?! How is that beneficial or indeed ethical to patients?
Its amusing actually, during my first degree I read a book bascially illustrating how the study of psychology was a strict academic discipline (real psychologists that is, not ones that study ghosts, astrology or hypnotism) and how rigourous the tests were. The author used the example of a comparison with medical research to add strength to his arguments. I can see why, medicine, despite whatever ongoing media storm still has credibility and respect from the public that the social sciences don't, but oh how undeserved!!
I don't think enough emphasis is being placed on this. Is it too much to ask that my 18 year old collegues take this subject seriously? Perhaps they are not being taught sufficiently well. I think throwing in all these studies without even mentioning Popper is misguided. My first degree taught me how to think scientifically, concepts such as falisfiability, that correlation doesn't equal causation, validity etc.. are second nature to me now. I am still waiting for medicine to catch up. Surely, in the field of medicine arguably more is at stake so they need to hurry up?