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November 1961

Error and Deception in Science: Essays on Biological Aspects of Life

Arch Intern Med. 1961;108(5):809-811. doi:10.1001/archinte.1961.03620110149031

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Those who are not hostile to criticism and are not bewildered by a dour and pessimistic view of the actual accomplishments of science as compared to its great promise, should get a great deal of pleasure from this series of brilliant critiques and frontal attacks on the complacency which often envelops men who fix their attention so doggedly on minutiae that they lose contact with the real world in which they move. Jean Rostand, the son of the French poet who gave us Cyrano de Bergerac, has achieved distinction as a scientist working in the field of experimental biology. Taking my cue from Wilfred Trotter who so brilliantly expounded the obscurities surrounding what he called "the mysterious viability of the false," I have explored certain biological aspects of the melancholy longevity of error under the title of The Natural History of Error. Perhaps the most delicious morsel in Rostand's rich

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