On the misuses of medical history

King, Helen and Green, Monica H (2018). On the misuses of medical history. Lancet, 391(10128) pp. 1354–1355.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)30490-2


A surprising amount of bad history passes peer review in the sciences and medicine. What do we mean by bad history? One example would be the misuse of historical images. Many images of so-called plague used in scientific publications depict patients suffering from leprosy.1 Another example is when commonly repeated claims about historical people or events are lifted from earlier scientific or medical writings, without checking whether professional historical scholarship has revised earlier interpretations.

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