November 1963

Calling Mephistopheles

Author Affiliations


Department of Microbiology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Arch Intern Med. 1963;112(5):643-646. doi:10.1001/archinte.1963.03860050057003

According to the legend, Dr. Faustus, having mastered all the knowledge of his time, became bored and sold his soul to the devil. The general thesis I should like to present is that were he a member of this Association today, he would probably go to the devil for a very different reason.

A little over a year ago, a laboratory manual1 was printed for a class of college students about to begin the study of elementary biology. The opening statement in its preface reads as follows:

The introductory biology course, for which this book is the laboratory manual, comes in a period of extraordinary changes. On the one hand, we are undergoing a revolution in biology which for the first time is approaching its problems systematically at the molecular level. With the emergence of biology at this level, already occupied by chemistry and physics, science as a whole

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