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February 23, 1994

Smoke and Letters-Reply

Author Affiliations

Deputy Editor (West), JAMA

JAMA. 1994;271(8):583-584. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510320023012

In Reply.  —Drs Davis and Chapman, whose contributions to the debate on the toxic effects of tobacco smoke have been notable, correctly quote me as wanting to ensure publication of "rational criticism" of the articles we put into print. They then suggest that in my anxiety to seem fair, I ignore the quality of letters from people who have been sponsored by the tobacco industry.Quality is hard to define. I restricted my argument to a consideration of the rational since to publish irrational criticism would be ludicrous. A letter's seeming rationality certainly gives the editor hope, though the points being made may still be nitpicking or not germane. Of course, this presupposes that the editor can distinguish the rational from the irrational. As editors, Davis and Chapman must know that expert reviewers often differ strenuously on this very question. Editors try hard to select and improve the best, but

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