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Thumbnail of William James Mayo (source)
William James Mayo
(29 Jun 1861 - 28 Jul 1939)

American surgeon , who, with his brother Charles, ran the Mayo Clinic founded by their father, William Worrall Mayo.

William James Mayo
“One well-trained physician”

Illustrated Quote - Large (800 x 400 px)

Thumbnail photo of Henry Jacob Bigelow - face
Bigelow (source)
“Given one well-trained physician of the highest type and he will do better work for a thousand people than ten specialists.”
— William James Mayo
From speech to the Boston Surgical Society (6 Jun 1921).

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When William Mayo gave a speech to the Boston Surgical Society (6 Jun 1921), his subject was the late surgeon Henry Jacob Bigelow (1818-1890). The quote comes the part of his talk subtitles “Bigelow the Surgeon and Teacher” in the printed version.

“Given one well trained physician of the highest type and he will do better work for a thousand people than ten specialists. One-tenth of each patient would be treated better by the specialist, but the nine-tenths would have little or no treatment. It is for the next generation to produce, as nearly as possible, the superman who shall have obtained from many special workers the threads of all knowledge to be woven together and applied as a whole for the benefit of the patient. Dr. Bigelow belonged to a generation of men who developed a keen power of observation, and who with the history of a case, and their highly trained special senses accomplished wonders.”

Dr. Bigelow detested any kind of cruelty and was outspoken against vivisection. However, Mayo obviously did not share this view, and omitted any reference to Bigelow’s personal aversion to it. In fact, Mayo said quite the opposite:

“Animal experimentation has resulted in gifts of inestimable value to humanity. The pernicious activities of antivivisectionists seriously threaten the continuance of these investigations, which are of such paramount importance to the nation's health. … Experiments on animals were performed in Bigelow’s time, but today such investigation has become one of the foundation stones of progress.”

Mayo did, however, point out some reasons for the opposition to animal experimentation. He spoke against the use of stolen family pet dogs since “the physician should not be a fence for stolen property. The physician has no more right to a stolen dog than to a stolen purse.” Mayo also said that the medical profession should protect the dog from untrained experimenters working without supervision in laboratories, and that some regulations controlling conditions were being adopted.

Text by Webmaster, with quote from speech 'In the Time of Henry Jacob Bigelow', given to the Boston Surgical Society, Medalist Meeting (6 Jun 1921). Printed in Journal of the Medical Association (1921), 77, 597-603). Reprinted in Collected Papers of the Mayo Clinic (1922), Vol. 13, 1257. (source)

See also:
  • Science Quotes by William James Mayo.
  • 29 Jun - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Mayo's birth.
  • William Mayo - context of quote “The aim of medicine” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • William Mayo - context of quote “The aim of medicine” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • William James Mayo - context of quote “One well-trained physician” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • William James Mayo - context of quote “The glory of medicine” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • William James Mayo - context of quote “The glory of medicine” - Large image (800 x 400 px)

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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