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March 22, 1924


JAMA. 1924;82(12):969-970. doi:10.1001/jama.1924.02650380037016

Science would be unfortunate indeed if it did not develop the spirit of uncompromising criticism as well as foster the genius for discovery in its devotees. Whereas the discoverer is likely to win the plaudits of the multitude and be hailed as the real promoter of human welfare and intellectual progress, the conscientious critic often fares badly. He is looked on with the prejudice and ill will that are ordinarily directed at a destroyer. Only the exceptional person fully realizes the importance of sober and well directed criticism as a corrective force which in the long run leads to proper constructive effort, though it may for the moment destroy what is faulty and unsound. Any one who reads the pages of scientific history can discern how legitimate criticism, sometimes unwelcome at the moment of its delivery, often has prevented the pendulum of enthusiasm for some attractive though unproved theory from