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November 21, 1966

The Original Sins

Author Affiliations

Bloomington, Hawaii

JAMA. 1966;198(8):954. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03110210204062

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To the Editor:—  Reading in one of our most distinguished scientific medical journals, I encountered a disquisition on original antigenic sin.Puzzled, because the idea of morality in antigens was new to me, I read the communication carefully, suspecting that the sin in this case was an acronym, meaning something like Synthetic Immunological Nonsense.To my intense delight, this was found not to be the case. As I read a little further, the Doctrine of Original Antigenic Sin appeared in capitals. This put the matter into enlightened perspective. The moral quality was beyond dispute. It is incorporated into a doctrine.Was it possible that the English language had altered, permitting sin to cover a multitude of errors? Not so. Webster's and Oxford's sins are almost identical, Webster being even more strict than Oxford, who permits sin to become a pity or a shame. Oxford's first definition controls the market:An