JAMA Revisited March 10, 1900 economic combustion of alcohol in the system. If the popu- lar physiologies would admit this, and confine their positive statements to the undeniable facts of the evil effects of alcohol, there would be no need of Professor Atwater’s criti- In a number of states, at the instance of active temperance cism. The teaching of these in the schools is a perfectly workers, laws have been passed prescribing instruction in the proper proceeding, but it should be confined to the positive public schools as to the toxic action of alcohol. It is charged truths and legitimate inferences. Even these latter, when by some, and very recently by Professor Atwater, whose supported by unnecessary erroneous statements, lose their experiments—previously noted in THE JOURNAL—are known force and are liable to be rejected in spite of the actual facts throughout the world, that the text-books used contain on which they are based. What is needed is a thorough revi- errors, notably in denying absolutely any food value to alco- sion of the text-books of physiology, if this is to be taught in hol, with other inaccurate statements. He is reported as say- our pubic schools. ing: “There are many errors in these text-books, sometimes On the other hand, there is a danger in the Professor’s the error consists in stating doubtful theories as attested criticisms, that he does not perhaps fully appreciate, but facts; in other cases the principles laid down are partly true which is emphasized by some of the newspaper comments and partly false; in still others the statements are squarely and reports of his remarks. He carefully guards his state- opposed to all the latest and most accurate scientific ments that alcohol is a food, but his testimony as to its dan- research.” He proceeds to say, further, that the impression gers is neglected by some who quote him, while all that he these text-books convey—as the facts—is “that science says as to its possible value in any way is picked up and made teaches that alcohol even in moderate quantities is always the most of. It is, as has been said in these columns before, harmful and never useful. This is untrue.” perilous to say anything in favor of alcohol, as misrepresenta- It is easy to believe that ardent advocates of temperance, tions and exaggerations are the certain results. All Professor seeing all the evils that result from the use of alcohol, have Atwater may say to qualify his remarks as to the utility and seized upon whatever apparently scientific facts seemed to advantage of this agent as a food will not prevent his being support their cause, and have used them to the best advan- quoted as an advocate of its use as a steady diet. That he tage from their point of view. It is also true that many of the desires this is not to be supposed, hence his position as an text-books prepared by strong advocates of their cause, not honest investigator in this subject has its disadvantages, but always the most competent, contain some such errors as they seem to be unavoidable. The temperance workers for Professor Atwater says they do. It is an unfortunate fact that their part will do well in the future to avoid the errors of zeal, even in a good cause, too often overshoots its mark, accepting disputable statements as positive facts, and they and the after-effects of errors in the teaching in regard can safely afford to treat the food value of alcohol as an to alcohol may be, as he says, disastrous and undo all the entirely negligible quantity; it is not taken or given as a food, good that was attempted. This does not necessarily imply but for its effects on the nervous system, and these are not any intentional misrepresentation, but simply an indiscrimi- considered in Professor Atwater’s studies. Let the text-books nating seizing on apparently favoring facts that are not be corrected to agree with what is known, and there will be sufficiently established, in support of their contention. It is left enough undisputed facts to serve their purpose. not generally recognized by the laity, or by some others, that there is nothing less certain than alleged scientific facts in regard to questions that are in dispute, like those of the JAMA. 1900;34(10):624-625. Editor’s Note: JAMA Revisited is transcribed verbatim from articles published Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor. previously, unless otherwise noted. 1004 JAMA March 10, 2020 Volume 323, Number 10 (Reprinted) jama.com © 2020 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.
JAMA – American Medical Association
Published: Mar 10, 2020
It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.
Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.
All for just $49/month
Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly
Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.
Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.
Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.
All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.
“Hi guys, I cannot tell you how much I love this resource. Incredible. I really believe you've hit the nail on the head with this site in regards to solving the research-purchase issue.”Daniel C.
“Whoa! It’s like Spotify but for academic articles.”@Phil_Robichaud
“I must say, @deepdyve is a fabulous solution to the independent researcher's problem of #access to #information.”@deepthiw
“My last article couldn't be possible without the platform @deepdyve that makes journal papers cheaper.”@JoseServera