“The greater the ignorance the greater the dogmatism.”

Dr. Weeks’ Comment:  Thankfully we have books which allow for friendships across the ages.  So allow me to introduce you to my great friend, William Osler, the wise and inspirational Canadian teacher of today’s doctors.

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Quotations of William Osler M.D., C.M., 1st Baronet (1849 –1919)

It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease a patient has.


The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.

The greater the ignorance the greater the dogmatism.

He who studies medicine without books sails an uncharted sea, but he who studies medicine without patients does not go to sea at all.

In seeking absolute truth we aim at the unattainable and must be content with broken portions.

It is much simpler to buy books than to read them and easier to read them than to absorb their contents.

Look wise, say nothing, and grunt. Speech was given to conceal thought.

Medicine is a science of uncertainty and an art of probability.

No bubble is so iridescent or floats longer than that blown by the successful teacher.

No human being is constituted to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; and even the best of men must be content with fragments, with partial glimpses, never the full fruition.

Observe, record, tabulate, communicate. Use your five senses. Learn to see, learn to hear, learn to feel, learn to smell, and know that by practice alone you can become expert.

One of the first duties of the physician is to educate the masses not to take medicine.

Soap and water and common sense are the best disinfectants.

The best preparation for tomorrow is to do today’s work superbly well.

The desire to take medicine is perhaps the greatest feature which distinguishes man from animals.

The first duties of the physician is to educate the masses not to take medicine.

The future is today.

The natural man has only two primal passions, to get and to beget.

The philosophies of one age have become the absurdities of the next, and the foolishness of yesterday has become the wisdom of tomorrow.

The value of experience is not in seeing much, but in seeing wisely.

The very first step towards success in any occupation is to become interested in it.

The young physician starts life with 20 drugs for each disease, and the old physician ends life with one drug for 20 diseases.

There are, in truth, no specialties in medicine, since to know fully many of the most important diseases a man must be familiar with their manifestations in many organs.

There is no disease more conducive to clinical humility than aneurysm of the aorta.

There is no more difficult art to acquire than the art of observation, and for some men it is quite as difficult to record an observation in brief and plain language.

To have striven, to have made the effort, to have been true to certain ideals – this alone is worth the struggle.

To study the phenomena of disease without books is to sail an uncharted sea, while to study books without patients is not to go to sea at all.

Variability is the law of life, and as no two faces are the same, so no two bodies are alike, and no two individuals react alike and behave alike under the abnormal conditions which we know as disease.

We are here to add what we can to life, not to get what we can from life.

What is the student but a lover courting a fickle mistress who ever eludes his grasp?

In science, the credit goes to the man who convinces the world, not to the man to whom the idea comes first.

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