Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Between the Lines

Ye olde statins

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 21 March 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e2143
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

If we were asked to give a résumé of the history of medicine, most of us, I suppose, would list those moments of progress and enlightenment to which we are in apostolic succession, as it were. This would be a perfectly reasonable organising principle for a great mass of material, but it would not be compatible with the dictum of the great German historian Leopold von Ranke (1795-1886), that the object of history as a discipline is to describe things as they actually were.

In 1849 the Reverend Henry Christmas (1811-68) published a curious two volume work with the title The Cradle of the Twin Giants, Science and History, in which he traced the story of the absurd ideas or superstitions, …

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