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March 1967

On Being Read

Arch Dermatol. 1967;95(3):312. doi:10.1001/archderm.1967.01600330070014

THE PRIMARY responsibility of a medical writer is to have someone read what he writes. Twiston-Davies has suggested that it is rather his first obligation to be understood. While no one could deny that this is an obligation, I doubt that it is the primary one. The primary obligation, as I see it, is to be read; for written matter that is not read is as useless as a firecracker on the moon. Indeed, Dr. Davies' own inimitable writings have attracted me in no small part by reason of the fact that I cannot always understand him. A man who may refer to a proffered piece of research as an "elegant and serviceable hippodorema," for example, is sure not to be universally understood; but he is also sure, for my money, to have a growing circle of readers, eager to see how next he will challenge or titillate their

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