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Books, Journals, New Media
December 16, 1998

Self-ExperimentationWho Goes First? The Story of Self-Experimentation in Medicine

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorJonathan D.EldredgeMLS, PhD, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


Not Available

JAMA. 1998;280(23):2043. doi:10.1001/jama.280.23.2043

A beefsteak can be cooked in just 13 minutes in an atmosphere of dry, hot air at a temperature of 250° F. In 1775, Dr Charles Blagden of the Royal Society demonstrated—on himself—that a fully clothed human could tolerate 250°F with little inconvenience for periods exceeding half an hour. More than a century later J. S. Haldane, while studying heatstroke, showed that a human could tolerate dry air at 300° F "but if he moved about too much his hair began to singe." This description of a 1905 experiment reveals that self-experimentation can have unanticipated results. And, as with any experiment involving human subjects, someone must go first.

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