"The Great Propaganda"
THOS. S. BLAIR, M. D., HARRISBURG, PENN.
In a recent editorial in ELLINGWOOD'S THERAPEUTIST I have noticed some remarks relative to The Journal of the American Medical Association and therapeutic nihilism in general. As a member of this organization, I regret to say that what is said is a pretty fair estimate of conditions. But there are some extenuating circumstances to which I beg leave to direct attention. Really, there are a good many matters appearing in the J. A. M. A. not very much approved by the rank and file of the Association. The truth is, the organization has grown very large and, as is natural, the various specialists have monopolized matters and insist upon the section papers all appearing in the published transactions, viz. the journal.
As a matter of fact, they seriously cumber its pages, as viewed by the most of us; but the specialists do not look upon the matter in that light. But the journal does give the impression that the dominant section of the profession is much more ultra-scientific than it really is. A forward movement is always apt to be crude. This applies to the Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry. We all know that all schools have been carrying along a lot of rubbish in our text books and more particularly so in materia-medica. Weeding it out is rather a thankless task, and it has been dreadfully hard to interest the right men, as most of them were either too busy or too much involved in various ways. I know perfectly well that more or less injustice has been done by this Council but I also know it has also done much good and has elevated standards. The end results promise to be satisfactory to all legitimate interests. As to certain attacks made, nearly all attacks are more or less unfair. Nevertheless, our good friend Dr. Abbott partly brought this upon himself and it has done him no real harm. It has only cleared the air a little.
As a disinterested observer, it impresses me that any man is at perfect liberty to use alkaloids in the place of the tinctures and fluid extracts if he so desires. No one doubts their activity. Neither will any reasonable man doubt the potency of a good fluid medicine. It is a matter of taste and the action one desires from the drug. But Dr. Abbott denounced the galenical in a manner quite beyond the mark, and of course he aroused the ire of certain gentlemen. Both have said every possible thing to say and honors are even. I hope they will call it quits.
Dr. Osier is a fine pathologist and has been brought into unwonted prominence as a therapeutist. He is all right in his place but really we do not regard him as an authority upon therapeutics. He never claimed to be. That was newspaper booming and is another story.
As to all journals and all medical associations, it is very hard to get the best and the most practical men to come to the fore and make themselves heard. On the other hand, the fellow with an axe to grind comes early and sits up front.
Ellingwood's Therapeutist, Vol. 3, 1909, was edited by Finley Ellingwood M.D.