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July 10, 1937

Who Gave the World Syphilis? The Haitian Myth

JAMA. 1937;109(2):157. doi:10.1001/jama.1937.02780280063029

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Abstract

Admiral C. S. Butler has for years, certainly since he was Captain Butler, been preaching in all seasons that syphilis was not of American origin. It is not too much to say that he is an evangelist who can see only obstinacy and a pretty high degree of stupidity in all those who hold so absurd a view as that syphilis did not exist in Europe before the return of Columbus on his first American voyage.

Captain Holcomb belongs to Admiral Butler's school. The temperance of his attitude on the subject is shown by his labeling the book at the very outset with the title "The Haitian Myth." His cold scientific consideration of the subject begins with a poem A Vision of the Search for Truth. As poetry is usually assumed to be an expression of the emotions, this beginning might be interpreted as evidence of a fairly emotional consideration

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