TED Book: The Laws of Medicine

What he writes is important, and he does so in an elegant, engaging fashion. This is a moving, deeply humane book.
— Los Angeles Review of Books
TED Book: The Laws of Medicine

The Laws of Medicine: Field Notes From an Uncertain Science

by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Essential, required reading for doctors and patients alike: A Pulitzer Prize-winning author and one of the world’s premiere cancer researchers reveals an urgent philosophy on the little-known principles that govern medicine—and how understanding these principles can empower us all.
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Watch the companion TED Talk

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About the book

TED Book: The Laws of Medicine

Over a decade ago, when Siddhartha Mukherjee was a young, exhausted, medical resident, he discovered a book that would forever change the way he understood the medical profession.

The book, The Youngest Science, forced Dr. Mukherjee to ask himself an urgent, fundamental question: Is medicine a "science"?

Sciences must have laws—statements of truth based on repeated experiments that describe some universal attribute of nature. But does medicine have laws like other sciences? In The Laws of Medicine Dr. Mukherjee investigates the most perplexing and illuminating cases of his career that ultimately led him to identify three principles that govern modern medicine.

Brimming with historical details, personal stories and modern medical breakthroughs, The Laws of Medicine is a fascinating glimpse into the struggles and Eureka! moments that doctors experience but people outside of the medical profession rarely see.

Provocative and humane, The Laws of Medicine is a field-guide for every profession that confronts uncertainty and wonder. Ultimately, this book lays the groundwork for a new way of understanding, not just medicine, but the world around us.

The 'laws of medicine' are really laws of uncertainty, imprecision, and incompleteness. They apply equally to all disciplines of knowledge where these forces come into play. They are laws of imperfection.

Press and reviews

Read the Los Angeles Review of Books' review

A great interview with Siddhartha on The Diane Rehm Show: Listen

About the author

Siddhartha Mukherjee is a cancer physician and researcher. He is the author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction. Mukherjee is an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and a staff cancer physician at Columbia University Medical Center. A Rhodes scholar, he graduated from Stanford University, University of Oxford, and Harvard Medical School. He has published articles in Nature, The New England Journal of Medicine, Cell, and The New York Times. He lives in New York with his wife and daughters.

TED Book author: Siddhartha Mukherjee