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October 2, 1972

A Plea for Mercy

JAMA. 1972;222(1):87. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03210010067020

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To the Editor.—  This is a plea for mercy—from the younger scholars in our profession toward the older workhorses in the age group 55 and over. Our literature is being increasingly inundated with reports that are biostatistically oriented. For example, a recent three-page discussion of blood pressure (221:365, 1972) used the following expressions: log-normal distribution; linear combination; oneway analysis of variance; within- and between-patient variability; standard deviation; mean square error; degrees of freedom; confidence limits; probability level of significance; (pooled variability) standard deviation; one(two-) tail test; bell-shaped distribution; homoscedasticity; skewed curve.Some of these terms are self-explanatory; others are not contained in any dictionary available to the average physician. Most or all are discussed in textbooks of biostatistics, but many of us older folks do not have the mathematical background to understand them.There are additional considerations. This same article points out that the more than 27,000 readings of blood