The X-ray

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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