It is becoming increasingly difficult to fool some of the people even some of the time unless, of course, one peddles an arthritis cure or a megavitamin panacea. It is especially difficult to fool patients with advanced cancer about the nature and prognosis of their disease. Some of the causes of this difficulty—wide dissemination of information by the media, obvious implications of chemotherapy, and fear of litigation—are discussed at length by Novack et al (p 897) and by Freireich (on this page).
Clearly, there is no arguing with reality. Practical obstacles to withholding the unwelcome truth from cancer patients are often insurmountable. What is open to argument, however, are the philosophic considerations frequently put forth in defense of complete, frank disclosures. Most of these considerations are based on the aura of sanctity that enshrouds "truth," be it the revealed truth of the Scriptures or the no less devoutly worshipped truth