November 23, 1907


JAMA. 1907;XLIX(21):1780. doi:10.1001/jama.1907.02530210052012

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Two notable railroad wrecks that occurred recently called from a distinguished alienist the opinion that they were due to a lack of quickness of nerve reaction on the part of the engineer. The rate of mental action in controlling physical action, he is reported to have said, is not much quicker than the speed of a fast locomotive, hence he infers that in these special occasions failure in this respect caused the disasters. It is nothing new to have the explanation made of a loss of nerve, in the popular sense of the term, for railroad and other accidents, but there is a suggestion here of a possible use of psycho-physiologic measurements of railroad employés as a preventive of disasters. The suggestion is not particularly new, but it is worth something. If a man is naturally slow in his nervous reaction, or is liable to lose his normal celerity and

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