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BMJ 1996; 312 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.312.7034.837 (Published 30 March 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:837
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    An 18th century medical student worries about placebos

    James Beattie, the poet (1735-1803), was professor of moral philosophy at Marischal College, Aberdeen, for the last four decades of the 18th century. He was much loved by his students, who often sought his advice. One of them, Thomas Christie, who had gone to London as a medical student, sent this moral condundrum to Beattie on 31 January 1786:

    ”I shall mention to you an opinion delivered to us in the class of Dr Osborne, of which, as it relates to Morals, I should be glad to know your sentiments. He …

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