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When should a specialist retire?

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 08 August 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:419
  1. Jeremy Hugh Baron, honorary professorial lecturer
  1. Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York

    In 1844 an editorial in the Lancet (1844;i:486-90), presumably by Thomas Wakley, excoriated the eminent William Prout as a man who had outlived his reputation and exerted a stultifying influence on progress in his field:

    “[H]is main researches have been superseded by others …. [He] has retained in the text of his last edition his own account of the process of digestion without taking proper cognisance of the digestive principle pepsin…. [His] pathological notions … have the appearance of closet speculations, and are diametrically opposed to the opinions of the soundest and most experienced men of the day …. [He has] total disregard of numerical and statistical details … [and offers] hypotheses which are unsubstantiated either by facts or arguments …. Dr Prout's name and authority exercise an influence that is detrimental to the cause of science in this country …. Time was when our schools stood foremost in the ranks for originality and discovery, but that time seems to have passed away …. The fault …

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