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Who said: “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”
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Thumbnail of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (source)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
(22 May 1859 - 7 Jul 1930)

Scottish author and physician who introduced the legendary character, Sherlock Holmes, in A Study in Scarlet (1887). Although he began a medical practice in 1882, it was his writings that became his career. Late in his life he became interested in spiritualism.


Arthur Conan Doyle
“No need for fiction in medicine”

Illustrated Quote - Large (800 x 400 px)

“There’s no need for fiction in medicine, for the facts will always beat anything you fancy.”
— Arthur Conan Doyle
From Round the Red Lamp: Being Facts and Fancies of Medical Life (1894).

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This quotes comes from Arthur Conan Doyle’s fiction book, Round the Red Lamp, which is a collection of short stories featuring the problems encountered by physicians and surgeons in their work. In fact, because of his education in medicine before he took to writing full-time, leaving Sherlock Holmes aside, Conan Doyle can easily spin yarns about medical life.

In his story called 'A Medical Document', three medical people are talking to each other. One, a general practioner named Foster, comes up with this line of thought, which begins:

“There’s no need for fiction in medicine … for the facts always beat anything you can fancy.”

He continues:

“But it has seemed to me sometimes that a curious paper might be read at some of these meetings about the uses of medicine in popular fiction … what diseases are made most use of in novels. Some are worn to pieces, and others, which are equally common in real life, are never mentioned. Typhoid is fairly frequent, but scarlet fever is unknown. … Then there is the mysterious malady called brain fever, which always attacks the heroine after a crisis, but which is unknown under that name to the text books. … The small complaints simply don’t exist. Nobody ever gets shingles or quinsy, or mumps in a novel. All the diseases, too, belong to the upper part of the body. The novelist never strikes below the belt.”

Text by Webmaster with quotes from 'A Medical Document', in Round the Red Lamp: Being Facts and Fancies of Medical Life (1894, 2nd ed.), 215. (source)


See also:
  • Science Quotes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
  • 22 May - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Doyle's birth.
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle gave evidence on a proposed Daylight Saving Bill to a Parliamentary Select Committee hearing witnesses.
  • Arthur Conan Doyle - context of quote “No need for fiction in medicine” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • Arthur Conan Doyle - context of quote “Extra hour of daylight” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • Arthur Conan Doyle - context of quote “Extra hour of daylight” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • Booklist for Arthur Conan Doyle.

Nature bears long with those who wrong her. She is patient under abuse. But when abuse has gone too far, when the time of reckoning finally comes, she is equally slow to be appeased and to turn away her wrath. (1882) -- Nathaniel Egleston, who was writing then about deforestation, but speaks equally well about the danger of climate change today.
Carl Sagan Thumbnail Carl Sagan: In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) ...(more by Sagan)

Albert Einstein: I used to wonder how it comes about that the electron is negative. Negative-positive—these are perfectly symmetric in physics. There is no reason whatever to prefer one to the other. Then why is the electron negative? I thought about this for a long time and at last all I could think was “It won the fight!” ...(more by Einstein)

Richard Feynman: It is the facts that matter, not the proofs. Physics can progress without the proofs, but we can't go on without the facts ... if the facts are right, then the proofs are a matter of playing around with the algebra correctly. ...(more by Feynman)
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- 60 -
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