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February 13, 1967


JAMA. 1967;199(7):494-495. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03120070106020

Too often we accept beliefs, scientific or nonscientific, without sufficient evidence. The "obviousness" of a conclusion, or its supposed relationship to "common sense," sways us all. However, the virtues of questioning such beliefs are many. Perhaps the major benefit to science comes from the mental perturbation of having opinions and beliefs questioned. We cannot, of course, seriously debate all of our beliefs all of the time, for no time would remain for productive effort. But if the human mind cannot work in a state of mental anarchy, it also cannot advance unless concepts and theories are frequently queried.

Jolly1 questions one entrenched dogma—the necessity of bed rest for sick children—and concludes that, excepting only a few diseases, there is no scientific evidence of a beneficial effect of bed rest. Any parent can testify to the unhappy psychological effect (perhaps more marked on parent than on child) of trying to