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Article
October 24, 1896

EMPIRICISM VS. WORKING HYPOTHESES IN THERAPEUTICS.

JAMA. 1896;XXVII(17):919-920. doi:10.1001/jama.1896.02430950041006

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Abstract

The excuse most strongly advanced by the charlatan for his existence is the specious one that therapeutic discoveries are all the results of chance empiricism. This plea is reiterated by physicians whose mental indolence limits them to what are most absurdly called the "practical" (but more properly the "receipt book") side of medicine, just now exploited at the expense of the profession, by certain advertising Hahnemanniac "free doctors." The shallowness of the scientific foundation of the " receipt book doctrine" contrasts markedly with its wide acceptance. Many physicians fail to recognize the great truth pointed out by Claude Bernard that, "All natural philosophy is summed up in this: To know the law which governs phenomena. The experimental problem reduces itself to this: To foresee and direct phenomena. It will not satisfy the experimental physician, though it may the merely empirical one, to know that quinin cures ague. The essential thing is

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