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October 27, 1906


JAMA. 1906;XLVII(17):1368-1371. doi:10.1001/jama.1906.25210170032002i

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I have deviated somewhat from the custom of my predecessors of presenting some purely surgical subject for your consideration in order to take up a matter of a more abstract nature, yet one which I believe to be of the greatest practical importance, and one too often neglected by most physicians. I refer to the question of testimony and evidence in medicine.

In the legal profession the questions of testimony and evidence, in so far as they relate to human affairs, have been very thoroughly studied, and more or less fixed rules governing them have been adopted. The value of testimony and the weight to be attached to evidence in the formation of conclusions are all elaborately dealt with, but the physician dealing habitually with questions of life and death too often fails to apply the most common rules of logic to his reasoning, with the result that his deductions

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