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August 14, 1967


JAMA. 1967;201(7):550. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03130070070024

Fortunately, judgments of past events and our evaluations of historical figures do not remain static. They change, as new information becomes available, critical viewpoints alter, and new schemes of value develop. As a concrete example, we might mention the different opinions that have been offered concerning an individual such as Paracelsus, who lived from 1493 to 1541. At one time he was considered to be a monster, an extravagant fantastic writer who uttered largely nonsense. However, the tide of appreciation rose slowly, and Paracelsus enjoys a much higher regard now than a century or more ago. The man himself has not changed. His writings remain as they always were (except, perhaps, for some superior editing). What, than, has changed? Clearly, standards and values have altered in the meantime.

History, it has been said, must be rewritten every generation, to take account of new information and changing viewpoints. Each historian reflects