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May 7, 1932


Author Affiliations

Professor of Dermatology and Syphilology, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania PHILADELPHIA

JAMA. 1932;98(19):1633-1635. doi:10.1001/jama.1932.02730450027008

It is perfectly proper for the medical profession, despite the criticism of quasiscientific laymen, to maintain a scientific reserve and indeed an attitude of incredulity toward alleged facts until indisputably proved. The history of medicine proves that even in the face of this tendency to scientific reservation, premature announcement and acceptance of discoveries and cures by the profession have often led to a later revision of opinion with embarrassment and loss of prestige. Sometimes, however, this tendency is carried too far. It may be recalled that French surgeons, witnessing the terrible loss of life from gangrene and septic poisoning from wounds in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, uttered a prayer, Would that we had some means of preventing these catastrophes; and yet such a means had been discovered several years before by Lister.

It is a source of astonishment to me that the profession of dermatologists has scrutinized only to