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October 20, 1900


JAMA. 1900;XXXV(16):1032-1033. doi:10.1001/jama.1900.02460420046008

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In the State of Massachusetts a medical-practice act, rigid in other respects, exempts from its provisions clairvoyants, mental healers, magnetic healers and those that practice the curing of diseases by the use of hypnotism. In other words, the greater the humbug the greater is the privilege, while any pretense to accurate knowledge must be rigorously investigated. It would seem that the lawmakers reasoned that since a little knowledge was a dangerous thing, absolute ignorance must be safe, a fallacy the more readily adopted since it is a natural tendency of human imbecility to love to be humbugged, as that eminent student of human nature, P. T. Barnum, expressed it. Like the silversmiths of Ephesus, the Massachusetts legislators may also have had self-interest in mind, for does not the great goddess of "Christian Science" reside among them, at least part of the time? In a recent lawsuit it was held that

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