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August 6, 1973

The Importance of Dialogue

Author Affiliations

Department of Neurologic Surgery St. Barnabas Hospital New York

JAMA. 1973;225(6):630. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220330042012

It is altogether fitting that the essay of Lord Snow dealing with humanistic aspects of patient care be published in JAMA. He addressed himself—throughout his scientific training as a physicist and his brilliant career as an author —to precisely this dialogue of bringing together science and the humanities. In his work as a novelist and essayist he has portrayed the question of life and death concretely and meaningfully, within the context of our scientifically explosive times. His art has increased our perception of the human phenomenon.

During this past century of medical therapeutic advances, a series of revolutions has taken place that have conglomerately diminished man in his own view, changed society, and destroyed faith in the absolute philosophic values previously taken for granted. The industrial and Darwinian revolutions of the turn of the century, the scientific revolution bringing us into the atomic, computerized age by the middle of this