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February 18, 1905


JAMA. 1905;XLIV(7):552-553. doi:10.1001/jama.1905.02500340040010

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The physician is thoroughly conversant with the fact that observation is apt to be erroneous, and that the patient's story must often be liberally interpreted in accordance with other facts observed. Some interesting experiments are reported in the Berlin Blätter für Volksgesundheitspflege. Dr. L. W. Stern of Breslau examined twenty-four pupils concerning the details of an assembly room in which the class had met eight days before. The questions concerned the number of windows and doors, whether or not the windows were barred, etc. The results showed that every fifth statement was positively false; but that statements under oath were slightly more accurate. For example, the percentage of error was from 18 to 27 per cent. in ordinary statements, and from 8 to 10 per cent, under oath. In another experiment, a man entered the room, spoke to the instructor, handed him a manuscript, asked permission to consult a case

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