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January 13, 1989

Man-made Death

JAMA. 1989;261(2):248. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420020100035

To the Editor. —  Mr Rhodes'1 thoughtful essay entitled "Man-made Death: A Neglected Mortality" highlighed a significant concern, but overlooked a fundamental connection.Humanity has not "progressively mastered biologic death," but has instead become artful at using technology to manipulate the time and appearance of death. How technology is used, whether to prolong life, improve the world's food supply, or hasten death, is a matter of human judgment.A world accustomed or acceding to the driving force of technology will succumb to the urge to do something simply because it can be done. The dereliction of our responsibility to exercise judgment concerning the use of technology, whether nuclear or medical, makes up a good portion of the problem whose threat prompted Mr Rhodes' timely and justified concerns.