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Stylistic analysis and rhetorical theory are used in this study to inform our understanding of impediments to the successful uptake of a new medical idea. Through examination of the work of the Victorian surgeon Joseph Lister, who was described by one biographer as suffering from "stylistic ham-handedness", the study provides insights into the difficulty that Lister had in explaining his theory of antiseptic surgery. Using three comparisons-Lister's scientific style in public discourse withdoi:10.1136/jmh.2008.000270 pmid:23674533 fatcat:7ukdkrsxmbha3kgbuvqi7mgbvy