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Article
July 3, 1967

IN PRAISE OF FOLLY

JAMA. 1967;201(1):54. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03130010080016

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Abstract

Protecting the adult fool from his folly is a 20th century phenomenon, grand in proportions, and exploited with unlimited piety. Although some older fools would not deserve protection, when the foolish one is a child the protection is mandatory.

Nothing is without its dangers—eating, drinking, or being shot at by the enemy. When these occupations serve to build maturity, as with driving automobiles and prowess in ski-jumping, we not only tolerate them in our children but encourage them, hoping that they yield lessons of serious value to life.

When hazardous activities offer nothing but catharsis, the medically minded citizen may not callously consent to them. It is not possible to condone the explosion of fireworks by children. Historically, pyrotechnic displays have been popular for hundreds of years, often of grandiose proportions. Manufacture of small fireworks to be sold to children seems to have been a later development, perhaps done more

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