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Diagnosis Quotes (62 quotes)
Diagnoses Quotes

A doctor who cannot take a good history and a patient who cannot give one are in danger of giving and receiving bad treatment.
In Paul Dudley White , Clues in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Heart Disease (1956), Introduction.
Science quotes on:  |  Physician (243)

A physician’s subject of study is necessarily the patient, and his first field for observation is the hospital. But if clinical observation teaches him to know the form and course of diseases, it cannot suffice to make him understand their nature; to this end he must penetrate into the body to find which of the internal parts are injured in their functions. That is why dissection of cadavers and microscopic study of diseases were soon added to clinical observation. But to-day these various methods no longer suffice; we must push investigation further and, in analyzing the elementary phenomena of organic bodies, must compare normal with abnormal states. We showed elsewhere how incapable is anatomy alone to take account of vital phenenoma, and we saw that we must add study of all physico-chemical conditions which contribute necessary elements to normal or pathological manifestations of life. This simple suggestion already makes us feel that the laboratory of a physiologist-physician must be the most complicated of all laboratories, because he has to experiment with phenomena of life which are the most complex of all natural phenomena.
From An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1865), as translated by Henry Copley Greene (1957), 140-141.
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A smart mother makes often a better diagnosis than a poor doctor.
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An observant parent’s evidence may be disproved but should never be ignored.
Lancet (1951), 1, 688.
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As soon as we got rid of the backroom attitude and brought our apparatus fully into the Department with an inexhaustible supply of living patients with fascinating clinical problems, we were able to get ahead really fast. Any new technique becomes more attractive if its clinical usefulness can be demonstrated without harm, indignity or discomfort to the patient... Anyone who is satisfied with his diagnostic ability and with his surgical results is unlikely to contribute much to the launching of a new medical science. He should first be consumed with a divine discontent with things as they are. It greatly helps, of course, to have the right idea at the right time, and quite good ideas may come, Archimedes fashion, in one's bath..

Correct is to recognize what diseases are and whence they come; which are long and which are short; which are mortal and which are not; which are in the process of changing into others; which are increasing and which are diminishing; which are major and which are minor; to treat the diseases that can be treated, but to recognize the ones that cannot be, and to know why they cannot be; by treating patients with the former, to give them the benefit of treatment as far as it is possible.
Diseases, in Hippocrates, trans. P. Potter (1988), Vol. 5, 113.
Science quotes on:  |  Treatment (100)

Diagnosis is not the end, but the beginning of practice.
Martin H. Fischer, Howard Fabing (ed.) and Ray Marr (ed.), Fischerisms (1944).
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DIAGNOSIS, n. A physician's forecast of disease by the patient's pulse and purse.
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  70.
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Diseases can rarely be eliminated through early diagnosis or good treatment, but prevention can eliminate disease.
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Doctor Johnson said, that in sickness there were three things that were material; the physician, the disease, and the patient: and if any two of these joined, then they get the victory; for, Ne Hercules quidem contra duos [Not even Hercules himself is a match for two]. If the physician and the patient join, then down goes the disease; for then the patient recovers: if the physician and the disease join, that is a strong disease; and the physician mistaking the cure, then down goes the patient: if the patient and the disease join, then down goes the physician; for he is discredited.
In 'A Collection of Apophthegms, New and Old' (1625). As given in Essays, Moral, Economical, and Political: A New Edition, With the Latin Quotations Translated (1813), No. 147, 308. The doctor is identified Ben Johnson by Forbes Winslow in his notes appended to Physic and Physicians (1842). Notes section, 39. Perhaps he means poet and playwright of stage comedy, Ben Jonson (1572-1637), also referred to in the book as “Benjamin Johnson” and once as “Dr. Johnson.” Note that Francis Bacon (1561-1626) died well before the life of writer Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784).
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Doctor says he would be a very sick man if were still alive today.

Early diagnosis of disease is the business of the general public even more than of the medical profession.
In 'The Time Factor in Medicine', Possible Worlds (1945), 104.
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For most diagnoses all that is needed is an ounce of knowledge, an ounce of intelligence, and a pound of thoroughness.
Arabic Proverb. In Lancet (1951). In John Murtagh, General Practice (1998), 125.
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Given one well-trained physician of the highest type and he will do better work for a thousand people than ten specialists.
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, 601.
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How many famous men be there in this our age, which make scruple to condemne these old witches, thinking it to bee nothing but a melancholike humour which corrupteth thei imagination, and filleth them with all these vaines toyes. I will not cast my selfe any further into the depth of this question, the matter craveth a man of more leisure.
Describing melancholy as the innocent affliction of those regarded as witches instead of Satanic influence, while distancing himself from the controversy.
Discours de la conservation de la veue; des maladies mélancholiques, des catarrhes, et de la vieillese (1594). In Richard Surphlet (trans.) A Discourse of the Preservation of the Sight: of Melancholike Diseases; of Rheumes, and of Old Age (1599), 98-9. Quoted in Michael Heyd, Be sober and Reasonable (), 58.
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Hypochondriac symptoms commonly occur and may, if no discernible cause for the symptom is found, be due to exaggerated needs for attention and other psychological desires.
In Benjamin B. Wolman (editor), Handbook of Clinical Psychology (1965), 830-1.
Science quotes on:  |  Hypochondriac (7)

I have clearly recorded this: for one can learn good lessons also from what has been tried but clearly has not succeeded, when it is clear why it has not succeeded.
On Joints, 47. Trans. R. W. Sharples.

I here present the reader with a new sign which I have discovered for detecting diseases of the chest. This consists in percussion of the human thorax, whereby, according to the character of the particular sounds then elicited, an opinion is formed of the internal state of that cavity.
New Invention by Means of Percussing the Human Thorax for Detecting Signs of Obscure Disease of the Interior of the Chest, Inventum novum ex percussione (31 Dec 1761).
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I look upon a good physician, not so properly as a servant to nature, as one, that is a counsellor and friendly assistant, who, in his patient’s body, furthers those motions and other things, that he judges conducive to the welfare and recovery of it; but as to those, that he perceives likely to be hurtful, either by increasing the disease, or otherwise endangering the patient, he thinks it is his part to oppose or hinder, though nature do manifestly enough seem to endeavour the exercising or carrying on those hurtful motions.
Quoted In Barbara Kaplan (ed.) Divulging of Useful Truths in Physick: The Medical Agenda of Robert Boyle (1993), 125.
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I think it’s a very valuable thing for a doctor to learn how to do research, to learn how to approach research, something there isn't time to teach them in medical school. They don't really learn how to approach a problem, and yet diagnosis is a problem; and I think that year spent in research is extremely valuable to them.
On mentoring a medical student.
Quoted in interview by Mary Ellen Avery (1997)
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If a patient is poor he is committed to a public hospital as a 'psychotic.' If he can afford a sanitarium, the diagnosis is 'neurasthenia.' If he is wealthy enough to be in his own home under the constant watch of nurses and physicians, he is simply 'an indisposed eccentric.'
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If migraine patients have a common and legitimate second complaint besides their migraines, it is that they have not been listened to by physicians. Looked at, investigated, drugged, charged, but not listened to.
Quoted by Walter Clemons, 'Listening to the Lost', Newsweek (20 Aug 1984).
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If three simple questions and one well chosen laboratory test lead to an unambiguous diagnosis, why harry the patient with more?
Editorial, 'Clinical decision by numbers'. Lancet (1975) 1, 1077.
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If your news must be bad, tell it soberly and promptly.
The Corner of Harley Street: Being Some Familiar Correspondence of Peter Harding, M. D., Ch. 26.

In acute diseases the physician must conduct his inquiries in the following way. First he must examine the face of the patient, and see whether it is like the faces of healthy people, and especially whether it is like its usual self. Such likeness will be the best sign, and the greatest unlikeness will be the most dangerous sign. The latter will be as follows. Nose sharp, eyes hollow, temples sunken, ears cold and contracted with their lobes turned outwards, the skin about the face hard and tense and parched, the colour of the face as a whole being yellow or black.
Prognostic, in Hippocrates, trans. W. H. S. Jones (1923), Vol. 2, 9.
Science quotes on:  |  Disease (275)

In diagnosis, the young are positive and the middle-aged tentative; only the old have flair.
Lancet (1951), 1, 795.
Science quotes on:  |  Physician (243)

In diagnosis, think of the easy first.
Martin H. Fischer, Howard Fabing (ed.) and Ray Marr (ed.), Fischerisms (1944).
Science quotes on:  |  Easy (102)

In the collecting of evidence upon any medical subject, there are but three sources from which we can hope to obtain it: viz. from observation of the living subject; from examination of the dead; and from experiments upon living animals.
Astley Cooper and Benjamin Travers, Surgical Essays (1821), Vol. 1, 84. In Ira M. Rutkow, The History of Surgery in the United States, 1775-1900 (1988), 394.
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In the fight which we have to wage incessantly against ignorance and quackery among the masses and follies of all sorts among the classes, diagnosis, not drugging, is our chief weapon of offence. Lack of systematic personal training in the methods of the recognition of disease leads to the misapplication of remedies, to long courses of treatment when treatment is useless, and so directly to that lack of confidence in our methods which is apt to place us in the eyes of the public on a level with empirics and quacks.
Address to the Canadian Medical Association, Montreal (17 Sep 1902), 'Chauvinism in Medicine', published in The Montreal Medical Journal (1902), 31, 267. Collected in Aequanimitas, with Other Addresses to Medical Students, Nurses and Practitioners of Medicine (1904), 299.
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It is our great collective misfortune that the scientific community made its decisive diagnosis of the climate threat at the precise moment when an elite minority was enjoying more unfettered political, cultural, and intellectual power than at any point since the 1920s.
From This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate (2014), 18.
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It would be very unsafe, unwise, and incorrect to assume that a patient either can or wants to present all aspects of his or her personality fully to the eaxminer.
'Integration of Projective Techniques in the clinical case study.' In A. I. Rabin (Ed.), Assessment with projective techniques: A concise introduction (1981), 259. Cited in Donald J. Viglione and Bridget Rivera, 'Assessing Personality and Psychopathology with Projective Methods', in Irving B. Weiner et al., Handbook of Psychology (2003), 542.
Science quotes on:  |  Psychology (143)

Laughter that occurs during tickling of the axillary region and the soles of the feet, as well as the laughter that occurs when seeing comical things or when hearing comical things, has no practical diagnostic significance.
As quoted in Fred Rosner, The Medical Legacy of Moses Maimonides (1998), 55.
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Medicine deals with the states of health and disease in the human body. It is a truism of philosophy that a complete knowledge of a thing can only be obtained by elucidating its causes and antecedents, provided, of course, such causes exist. In medicine it is, therefore, necessary that causes of both health and disease should be determined.
'Concerning the Subject-Matter of Medicine', in The Canon of Medicine, adapted by L. Bakhtiar (1999), 11.
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Nowadays the clinical history too often weighs more than the man.
In Jess M. Brallier, Medical Wit & Wisdom (1993), 29.
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One of the major goals when studying specific genetic diseases is to find the primary gene product, which in turn leads to a better understanding of the biochemical basis of the disorder. The bottom line often reads, 'This may lead to effective prenatal diagnosis and eventual eradication of the disease.' But we now have the ironic situation of being able to jump right to the bottom line without reading the rest of the page, that is, without needing to identify the primary gene product or the basic biochemical mechanism of the disease. The technical capability of doing this is now available. Since the degree of departure from our previous approaches and the potential of this procedure are so great, one will not be guilty of hyperbole in calling it the 'New Genetics'.
'Prenatal Diagnosis and the New Genetics', The American Journal of Human Genetics, 1980, 32:3, 453.
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Our purpose is to be able to measure the intellectual capacity of a child who is brought to us in order to know whether he is normal or retarded. ... We do not attempt to establish or prepare a prognosis and we leave unanswered the question of whether this retardation is curable, or even improveable. We shall limit ourselves to ascertaining the truth in regard to his present mental state.
Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon (1873-1961, French psychologist) 'New Methods for the Diagnosis of the Intellectual Level of Subnormals' (1905), in The Development of Intelligence in Children, trans. Elizabeth Kite (1916), 37.
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Owing to his lack of knowledge, the ordinary man cannot attempt to resolve conflicting theories of conflicting advice into a single organized structure. He is likely to assume the information available to him is on the order of what we might think of as a few pieces of an enormous jigsaw puzzle. If a given piece fails to fit, it is not because it is fraudulent; more likely the contradictions and inconsistencies within his information are due to his lack of understanding and to the fact that he possesses only a few pieces of the puzzle. Differing statements about the nature of things, differing medical philosophies, different diagnoses and treatments—all of these are to be collected eagerly and be made a part of the individual's collection of puzzle pieces. Ultimately, after many lifetimes, the pieces will fit together and the individual will attain clear and certain knowledge.
'Strategies of Resort to Curers in South India', contributed in Charles M. Leslie (ed.), Asian Medical Systems: A Comparative Study (1976), 185.
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Patients and their families will forgive you for wrong diagnoses, but will rarely forgive you for wrong prognoses; the older you grow in medicine, the more chary you get about offering iron clad prognoses, good or bad.
David Seegal, Journal of Chronic Diseases (1963), 16, 443.
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Shut your eyes to the medical columns of the newspapers, and you will save yourself many forebodings and symptoms.
'The Sure-Cure School,' Collier’s Weekly (14 Jul 1906). Reprinted in The Great American Fraud (1907), 84.
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Signs and symptoms indicate the present, past and future states of the three states of the body (health, illness, neutrality). According to Galen, knowledge of the present state is of advantage only to the patient as it helps him to follow the proper course of management. Knowledge of the past state is useful only to the physician inasmuch as its disclosure by him to the patient brings him a greater respect for his professional advice. Knowledge of the future state is useful to both. It gives an opportunity to the patient to be forewarned to adopt necessary preventative measures and it enhances the reputation of the physician by correctly forecasting the future developments.
'The Signs and Symptoms (Diagnosis): General Remarks,' in The Canon of Medicine, adapted by L. Bakhtiar (1999), 259.

Sir Adolph Abrams, the physician, in a lecture entitled Amanuensis, described a case history as an amalgam of false memories, rumour, innuendo and downright lies, and on these we are expected to make a diagnosis.
Myre Sim
Quoted in book review by Myre Sim about 'Ending the Cycle of Abuse', The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry (May 1997), 42:4, 424-425. Webmaster believes the correct name should be Sir Adolphe Abrahams of Westminster Hospital.
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Study the hindrances, acquaint yourself with the causes which have led up to the disease. Don’t guess at them, but know them through and through if you can; and if you do not know them, know that you do not, and still inquire. “Cannot” is a word for the idle, the indifferent, the self-satisfied, but it is not admissible in science. “I do not know” is manly if it does not stop there, but to say “I cannot” is a judgment both entirely illogical, and in itself bad as favouring rest in ignorance.
In Sir William Withey Gull and Theodore Dyke Acland (ed.), A Collection of the Published Writings of William Withey Gull (1896), lix.
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Teach your tongue to say “I do not know” and you will progress.
As quoted in Robert Taylor, White Coat Tales: Medicine's Heroes, Heritage, and Misadventures (2010), 124.
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The comforting, if spurious, precision of laboratory results has the same appeal as the lifebelt to the weak swimmer.
Lancet (1981) 1, 539-40 (1981)
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The fact that your patient gets well does not prove that your diagnosis was correct.
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The faculties developed by doing research are those most needed in diagnosis.
From Transactions of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology (1966) 70, 17. Used as epigraph in Clifford Frank Hawkins and Marco Sorgi Research: How to Plan, Speak and Write About It (1985), 1.
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The functional validity of a working hypothesis is not a priori certain, because often it is initially based on intuition. However, logical deductions from such a hypothesis provide expectations (so-called prognoses) as to the circumstances under which certain phenomena will appear in nature. Such a postulate or working hypothesis can then be substantiated by additional observations ... The author calls such expectations and additional observations the prognosis-diagnosis method of research. Prognosis in science may be termed the prediction of the future finding of corroborative evidence of certain features or phenomena (diagnostic facts). This method of scientific research builds up and extends the relations between the subject and the object by means of a circuit of inductions and deductions.
In 'The Scientific Character of Geology', The Journal of Geology (Jul 1961), 69, No. 4, 454-5.
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The further away the chronic abdominal pain in a child is from the umbilicus the more likely an organic cause.
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The great secret, known to internists…, but still hidden from the general public, is that most things get better by themselves. Most things, in fact, are better by morning.
In 'Aspects of Biomedical Science Policy', The New England Journal of Medicine (12 Oct 1972), 3. Also published as Occasional Paper of the Institute of Medicine.
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The hypochondriac disease consists in indigestion and consequent flatulency, with anxiety or want of pleasurable sensation.
Zoonomia, Or, The Laws of Organic Life, in three parts, complete in two volumes (1818), Vol. 2, 112.
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The longer I practise medicine, the more convinced I am there are only two types of cases: those that involve taking the trousers off and those that don't.
Spoken by character Dr. Wicksteed in play Habeas Corpus (1973).
Science quotes on:  |  Physician (243)

The old fashioned family physician and general practitioner ... was a splendid figure and useful person in his day; but he was badly trained, he was often ignorant, he made many mistakes, for one cannot by force of character and geniality of person make a diagnosis of appendicitis, or recognize streptococcus infection.
New York Medical Journal (1913), 97, 1.
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The patient has two sleeves, one containing a diagnostic and the other a therapeutic armamentarium; these sleeves should rarely be emptied in one move; keep some techniques in reserve; time your manoeuvres to best serve the status and special needs of your patient.
Chinese proverb.
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The theory of medicine, therefore, presents what is useful in thought, but does not indicate how it is to be applied in practice—the mode of operation of these principles. The theory, when mastered, gives us a certain kind of knowledge. Thus we say, for example, there are three forms of fevers and nine constitutions. The practice of medicine is not the work which the physician carries out, but is that branch of medical knowledge which, when acquired, enables one to form an opinion upon which to base the proper plan of treatment.
'The Definition of Medicine', in The Canon of Medicine, adapted by L. Bakhtiar (1999), 10.
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There are some modern practitioners, who declaim against medical theory in general, not considering that to think is to theorize; and that no one can direct a method of cure to a person labouring under disease, without thinking, that is, without theorizing; and happy therefore is the patient, whose physician possesses the best theory.
Zoonomia, or, The Laws Of Organic Life (1801), Vol. 2, ix.
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There is only one cardinal rule: One must always listen to the patient.
Quoted by Walter Clemons, 'Listening to the Lost', Newsweek (20 Aug 1984).
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This is a mighty wonder: in the discharge from the lungs alone, which is not particularly dangerous, the patients do not despair of themselves, even although near the last.
Concerning Tuberculosis.
On the Causes and Symptoms of Acute Diseases, II, ii,18.
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To be uncertain is to be uncomfortable, but to be certain is to be ridiculous.
Chinese proverb.
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To find the cause of our ills in something outside ourselves, something specific that can be spotted and eliminated, is a diagnosis that cannot fail to appeal. To say that the cause of our troubles is not in us but in the Jews, and pass immediately to the extermination of the Jews, is a prescription likely to find a wide acceptance.
In The Passionate State of Mind (1955), 79.
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When a man lacks mental balance in pneumonia he is said to be delirious. When he lacks mental balance without the pneumonia, he is pronounced insane by all smart doctors.
Martin H. Fischer, Howard Fabing (ed.) and Ray Marr (ed.), Fischerisms (1944).
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When the patient dies the kidneys may go to the pathologist, but while he lives the urine is ours. It can provide us day by day, month by month, and year by year, with a serial story of the major events going on within the kidney.
Glomerular Nephritis, Diagnosis and Treatment (1948), 2.
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With an illness affecting the lungs, … namely phthisis, there develops rounding of the nail as a rainbow.
As quoted in Robert Taylor, White Coat Tales: Medicine's Heroes, Heritage, and Misadventures (2010), 124.
Science quotes on:  |  Illness (24)  |  Lung (19)  |  Nail (7)  |  Rainbow (10)

Carl Sagan Thumbnail 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) -- Carl Sagan
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- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton

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