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December 1977

Misplacement of a Quantifier

Author Affiliations

Syracuse, NY

Arch Intern Med. 1977;137(12):1743. doi:10.1001/archinte.1977.03630240073031

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To the Editor.—  In Knochel's fine article, "The Pathophysiology of Severe Hypophosphatemia," which appeared in the February Archives (137:203-220, 1977), on page 209 under the heading "The Possible Role of Hypocalcemia in the Pathogenesis of Phosphate Depletion in a Patient With Chronic Alcoholism," appears the sentence, "Since all alcoholics are not hypomagnesemic, it seems possible that.... " This statement is obviously not what the author intended, because in the previous column he speaks about alcoholics who are, in fact, hypomagnesemic. The statement is therefore false and should be corrected. Probably what was intended is the statement, "Since not all alcoholics are hypomagnesemic, it seems possible that.... "This type of error is logic (misplacement of a quantifier) is common, but is to be avoided especially in scholarly journals, whose readers, one would hope, would know that "all alcoholics are not hypomagnesemic" means something decidedly different from "not all alcoholics are hypomagnesemic."

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