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October 8, 1982

Distribution of Physicians-Reply

JAMA. 1982;248(14):1711-1712. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330140025022

In Reply.—  Dr Hafferty ignores a fundamental tenet of science: one can never prove a theory, only fail to disprove it. The appropriate test is how well the data fit the theoretical predictions. The data on physician location are fully consistent with location theory: (1) above a critical size, towns are likely to have a specialist of a given type, while below it they are not; (2) the critical town size is lower, the greater the number of specialists and the less the competition of such specialists with the general and family practitioner; (3) the critical town size falls as the number of specialists expands; (4) the critical town size is greater for board-certified specialists. Although we only had space in The Journal to summarize the data that support these arguments, complete documentation is contained in the two Rand reports referred to in the article.1,2Dr Hafferty does not