In an editorial in a comparatively recent issue of The Journal1 the question is asked, Who is responsible for the lithia water fraud? This is but a special and relatively unimportant phase of an old problem, the responsibility for crude beliefs and medical frauds general, but it seems a good text to point a lesson.
Faith in the superior efficiency of lithium salts as uric acid "solvents" dates back fifty years or more, and had its origin in the wrong interpretation of a simple chemical fact, but the absurdity of the claim has been many times shown, leaving quite out of consideration the well-known fact that most so-called lithia waters contain such minute traces of the element that the spectroscope is required for their detection. The scientific fallacy in the solvent doctrine was long since shown by physiologists studying the problem from the standpoint of the dissociation theory and the mass action laws. His and Paul,2 especially, have contributed to the subject in
LONG JH. WHO IS RESPONSIBLE? THE POSITION OF CHEMISTRY IN MEDICAL EDUCATION. JAMA. 1913;61(20):1805–1806. doi:10.1001/jama.1913.04350210045013
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