EXHIBITS: Giving Medicine a Fair Trial

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Science  15 Aug 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5635, pp. 899
DOI: 10.1126/science.301.5635.899a

The 18th century Scottish physician James Lind is best known for establishing that lemons and oranges were remedies for scurvy, then a major killer of sailors and landlubbers alike. But his systematic analysis of previous writings about preventing and treating the malady was also a landmark in the history of fair tests—studies that weigh all pertinent evidence and account for chance and bias. The James Lind Library, hosted by the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh, U.K., traces the evolution of fair tests, which are becoming more and more important in medicine.

The site presents this history through a collection of nearly 100 book excerpts, papers, and other documents that discuss or apply the methods of fair tests. You can read key passages from Lind's 1753 treatise, for instance, or follow a link to the full book. Many of the selections also come with biographies, bibliographies, and commentaries by experts.


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