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JAMA Revisited
May 24/31, 2016

Science and Practical Common Sense

JAMA. 2016;315(20):2239. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.17087

Almost every one who is engaged in scientific work is certain sooner or later to find the impression, among people at large and even among some practitioners of medicine, that there is something unpractical and visionary about so-called scientific knowledge. This sentiment crops out in various ways. Sometimes it represents “the survival of the idea long held that science is a kind of hobby, chiefly for the men who pursue it; that while it may throw light on the abstruse problems of the universe it is not to be the guide of the practical man, and that its adherents are impractical.” It is from such a view that the feeling of a sort of antagonism between science and what is called “common sense” derives its origin. Reference is sometimes made to “sound practice” as if it were something quite independent of scientific principles, or even superior to them. Another somewhat prevalent conception confuses science with theory, whereby the term “scientific” is regarded as synonymous with theoretical.

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