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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/655

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THE PHYSICIAN OF THE FUTURE.

the etiology of disease, the elucidation of the action of medicaments by the methods of experimental physiology, appear to me to be the greatest steps which have ever been made toward the establishment of medicine on a scientific basis. I need hardly say, they could not have been made except for the advance of normal biology. There can be no question, then, as to the connection between medicine and biological science. There can be no doubt that the future of pathology, of therapeutics, and therefore of practical medicine, depends upon the extent to which those who occupy themselves with these subjects are trained in the methods and impregnated with the fundamental truths of biology. And I venture to suggest that the collective sagacity of this congress could occupy itself with no more important question than with this: How is medical education to be arranged, so that, without entangling the student in those details of the systematist which are valueless to him, he may be enabled to obtain a firm grasp of the great truths respecting animal and vegetable life without which, notwithstanding all the progress of scientific medicine, he will still find himself an empiric?"

The modern theories of evolution have done great things for medicine, and will do far more in the future. They have put in action forces that may revolutionize medical science. Evolution has shown, as nothing else could, how profoundly animals are affected by their environment, their food, habits, climate, etc., and, by showing how inevitable is the modification of structure in other animals, has called attention to the same facts in man's existence.

Men knew long ago that animals were greatly affected by their surroundings, but this truth was far from being fully recognized until evolution re-affirmed it, and emphasized its affirmation by facts which could not be passed by. Thus man was led to ask, What application have these principles to my own habits of life, to my well-being? To what extent are my diseases induced and fostered by external conditions? The reply to these inquiries is found in sanitary science, in health officers and boards of health, and we have as yet only the beginning of the answer. Sanitary science, though in its infancy, has already profoundly affected medical science in many directions. Perhaps the most important effect that as yet appears is the leading medicine away from its old, blind, absolute faith in remedial agents, in therapeutics, toward greater faith in right living, proper diet, dress, and drainage. Not that remedies are to be wholly laid aside, but they will be more sparingly used, and more intelligently, and often not at all. Where formerly drugs, powerful in quantity and quality, were invariably given, many of our best physicians now prescribe few or none, depending, and with better results, upon pure air, simple food, and other hygienic means. I believe that more would thus treat disease were they not prevented by the patients themselves.

So long as it is less trouble to take quinine than to clear out drain