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Human Experimentation: A Guided Step Into the Unknown

Am J Dis Child. 1986;140(9):880. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1986.02140230050027.
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William A Silverman, MD, is a man of parts: he is a scholar, a humanistic physician, a clinical investigator, a teacher, and an "implacable skeptic" (his term). He has suggested, formally and informally, that the science of human biology might be more vigorous and credible if the participants all adopted the motto semper plangere (ie, always complain).

Dr Silverman investigated fundamental problems in physiology and therapy in newborns before perinatology was "born." He recognized the importance of—and used—randomized clinical trials at a time when too much clinical research still depended on authoritarian pronouncements, testimonials, and anecdotal evidence.

Now Dr Silverman has written a book on human experimentation, and it is a noteworthy book indeed. It blends three themes: historical material related to research in medicine; ethical issues relevant to clinical research; and methodological principles that are crucial in the design, execution, and interpretation of research in human biology. The historical


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