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October 1, 1927


JAMA. 1927;89(14):1152. doi:10.1001/jama.1927.02690140048014

A new method of therapy, and similarly a new drug, may become a help to mankind in the hands of an intelligent physician or may furnish an opportunity for the most objectionable quackery on the part of untutored persons. Probably the greatest menace as well as the largest opportunity for unwise if not actually fraudulent practice lies in the tendency to draw unwarranted generalizations from a restricted group of facts. In some such way, for example, the health-promoting vitamins have indiscriminately been accredited with curative potencies for almost every category of human ills from constipation to cancer. The clear-cut experimental proof of the relief of dietary xerophthalmia in certain species by the inclusion of milk fat in the ration promptly becomes magnified into the promiscuous assertion that eye diseases are cured by vitamin A. Such ridiculous and obviously unwarranted generalizations would do like harm if their influence did not extend