That happened two generations ago, and it might be supposed that in
the meantime there had been so much advance in popular education, and
particularly in the diffusion of scientific knowledge, that such a
self-deception on the part of scientists, and blind following by the
people, could not take place in our time. Just as soon as Roentgen
discovered the X-ray, however, we began to have applications of that
wonderful agent to curative purposes. About 1900, scarcely five years
after Roentgen's discovery, there was hardly an ailment that some one
did not claim to have seen treated successfully by the X-rays.
Especially was this true for the chronic and hitherto supposedly
incurable diseases. All the forms of malignant disease were treated by
the new agent, and some supposedly marvelous cures were reported.
Everything chronic was favorably affected--lupus, rodent ulcer,
eczema, acne rosacea, even tuberculosis of the lungs. At the time I
was on the staff of a medical journal, and the favorable reports came
in so thick and fast that it really looked for a time as though the
surgery of the future was to be much simplified. It took but a year or
two to show us how little of lasting therapeutic benefit there was
in the X-ray, in spite of the fact that it is a marvelous agent
in its action upon living tissues. At the present moment it is used
comparatively little, and its use is gradually diminishing, except for
very special limited affections.
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