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January 13, 1975

It's Free

JAMA. 1975;231(2):153-154. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03240140013015

DURING a recent vacation, I came across the following announcement in my hotel room: "Please do not take towels to the beach. They are provided FREE at your request." It did not say that there was no extra charge for this service, which was included in the room price. The management had apparently learned that the promise of something free, something for nothing, is more convincing than if it had been phrased otherwise.

In fact, we are subjected to numerous offers for socalled free goods and services. We are offered free lessons, free meals, free trips, including trips to Florida and far-off islands in the sun, in the hope that a land purchase will eventually result. Medical students are offered free instruments, free meals, and free cocktails by hospitals that want to induce them to intern there and by pharmaceutical companies that would like them to prescribe their products. Many