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JAMA 100 Years Ago
July 11, 2001


Author Affiliations

JenniferReiling, Assistant Editor

JAMA. 2001;286(2):140. doi:10.1001/jama.286.2.140-JJY10020-2-1

Josh Billings said that the difference between a blunder and a mistake is that, when one takes another's umbrella and finds that it a better one than his own, "that's a mistake," but when the umbrella is poorer, "then it's a blunder." Probably the other fellow would not agree with him. Whether to call the error in proofreading which occurred in this journal last week a blunder or a mistake we are not decided. As there was no harm done by it and as it probably caused a good many smiles, we are inclined to call it a blunder. The title of the leading article as it appeared in the table of contents read: "Poverty and Pregnancy, their Cause, Prevention and Cure," and as the author, whose name followed, is one of the oldest, best known and most respected members of the profession, there was probably a good deal of curiosity manifested on the part of some to know that ultra-Malthusian ideas would be found in the article. While "poverty and pregnancy" are quite likely to be found together, the two could hardly be considered together in regard to their cause, prevention and cure. As a rule typographical errors are explainable, but it is hard to explain how the word "pregnancy" could be mistaken for "degeneracy"; we shall not try, but simply call it one of the blunders of the Fourth of July. As misery loves company, there is a certain amount of pleasure in reading in the current number of our staid and respected contemporary, the London Lancet, an apology for using the words "a sour correspondent," which it insists should have been "as our correspondent."