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October 17, 1925


JAMA. 1925;85(16):1226-1227. doi:10.1001/jama.1925.02670160052016

Tradition undoubtedly contributes much of practical benefit to medicine, for it often embodies the accumulated experience of many physicians in matters that have not been subject to strict experimental test. Thus, the undoubted virtues of fresh air and sunlight in certain conditions have a traditional history of many years, whereas the explanations of the favorable reactions which they represent are only now beginning to find expression in scientific literature. There is another type of tradition, however, represented by the blind acceptance of statements supposedly inspired by some "authority." These tend to be handed down as guides to practice, often regardless of common sense or rigorous logic, and sometimes in the face of conflict with demonstrable phenomena. These traditions may represent all shades of conviction, from fixed beliefs to wavering impressions. Because he has been told so, the convert may feel certain that night air causes malaria and may even suspect