Recapitulation with Variations: “Play It Again, Sam”

  • Robert L. Bacon
  • Nelson R. Niles


One cannot deny the fundamental interdependence ofstructure and function in biology and medicine. This is now a hoary and possibly boring adage. But is it also recognized that structure and function determine the characteristics of disease? Is it understood that diseases are experienced, measured, and classified as they are mainly because of the anatomic parts affected? The history ofquackery depends largely on the lack ofthis perception. How else would anyone accept an elixir not only as a panacea—a cure for countless ills of all sorts—but also as a preventive against any disease? Yet, a little sensible reflection on the complexity and detailed specificity (that is, the fine anatomy and physiology) of the human body can prevent the frauds of quackery. Severed nerve fibers are not induced to regrow and to function normally again by the action ofan odoriferous nostrum. Metastatic cancer will not be overcome by an extract of fruit pits. There is no advantage in overdosage with vitamins. The only likely victory over disease lies in seeing it for what it is and this means looking at it, possibly with old and simple tools or perhaps with new and subtle tricks. But look at it we must; otherwise we are only charlatans whether we admit it or not.


Rheumatic Fever Pleomorphic Adenoma Squamous Metaplasia Limited Life Span Entiated Cell 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert L. Bacon
    • 1
  • Nelson R. Niles
    • 2
  1. 1.School of MedicineOregon Health Sciences UniversityUSA
  2. 2.School of MedicineOregon Health Sciences UniversityUSA

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