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To the Editor:—
The editorial, "The Great Fallout Controversy," has provoked comments. These have been complimentary comments by a ratio of 4 to 1. Just before the First World War, Max Steinitzer (a music critic) wrote: "We live in times which are both infinitely primitive and infinitely complex. The realities of life in our day cannot provide us with a firm guiding hand..." The more I read history, the more I am convinced that nobody has ever lived in "normal" times. The purpose of a critic (or an editorialist in medicine, politics, or music) is to make a distinction between the "guiding hand" and the "unguiding foot." Physical facts are not a guiding hand. They can be misused to misguide. The fact that strontium-90 has a half-life of 28 years and is found in cow's milk is incidental and uncommunicative. Strontium-90 does not have a biological half-time of 28 years:
Brucer M. The Great Fallout Controversy-Reply. JAMA. 1962;181(2):172. doi:10.1001/jama.1962.03050280101018