Prometheus Shaken Baby Debate

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These papers - one proposition paper and ten responses - comprise a debate on shaken baby syndrome. This is the hypothesis that a Triad of indicators in the head of a dead baby reveal that it has been shaken to death, and that the killer was the person last in charge of the baby. The debate was scheduled to have appeared in Prometheus, a journal concerned with innovation rather than matters medical. It struck the editors of Prometheus that a hypothesis that had survived nearly half a century and was still resistant to challenge and change was well within the tradition of Prometheus debate. The debate focuses on the role of the expert witness in court, and especially the experiences of Waney Squier, a prominent paediatric pathologist, struck from the medical register in the UK for offering opinions beyond her core expertise and showing insufficient respect for established thinking and its adherents. The debate’s responses reveal much about innovation, and most about the importance of context, in this case the incompatibility of medicine and the law, particularly when constrained by the procedures of the court. Context was also important in the reluctance of Taylor & Francis, the publisher of Prometheus, to publish the debate on the grounds that its authors strayed from their areas of expertise and showed insufficient respect for established thinking.

Prometheus shaken baby debate



The shaken baby debate - Stuart Macdonald

Proposition paper

Shaken baby syndrome: causes and consequences of conformity - Waney Squier

Response papers

Shaken baby syndrome: a fraud on the courts - Heather Kirkwood

Shaken baby: an evolving diagnosis deformed by the pressures of the courtroom - Susan Luttner

Waney Squier’s ordeal and the crisis of the shaken baby paradigm - Niels Lynøe

Another perspective - simply my brief thoughts - Dave Marshall

Has Squier been treated fairly? - Brian Martin

Commentary on the paper by Waney Squier: ‘Shaken baby syndrome: causes and consequences of conformity’ - Michael J Powers

Waney Squier and the shaken baby syndrome case: a clarion call to science, medicine and justice - Toni C Saad

The role of the General Medical Council - Terence Stephenson

When experts disagree - Stephen J. Watkins

The General Medical Council’s handling of complaints: the Waney Squier case - Peter Wilmshurst


➤  Version 1 (2019-03-04)


Stuart Macdonald, Waney Squier, Heather Kirkwood, Susan Luttner, Niels Lynøe, Dave Marshall, Brian Martin, Michael Powers QC, Toni Saad, Terence Stephenson, STEPHEN JOHN WATKINS and Peter Wilmshurst (2019). Prometheus Shaken Baby Debate. Researchers.One,

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