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February 11, 1974

Medical Education: Point, Counterpoint

JAMA. 1974;227(6):648. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230190040011

The pendulum was a great invention, especially for clocks. Its swinging weight measured minutes and hours, and its movement to the right was as certain as doom to be followed by its return to the left. Small wonder, then, that the familiar coming and going and coming again of politics, dress styles, hairdos, customs, and concepts came to be spoken of as pendular. The timepiece itself has made its own contribution to the language. If one doesn't like what seems to be an outdated swing to the past, one calls it "setting the clock back."

These kinds of deja vu occur in medical education, as Samuel Z. Goldhaber1 proves in the Sept 14, 1973, issue of Science. The author, a former intern writer for that journal and now a medical student, has observed a sort of anachronistic turnabout at the Harvard Medical School.

There, a few years ago, the