Diseases of Children

1941 BMJ (Clinical Research Edition)  
The late Prof. Raymond Pearl advocated beginning the study of biology with the human frame rather than with progressive types of lower organisms, as is the more usual course. He gave some cogent reasons for this suggestion, prominent among which was the interest felt by the student. Prof. George A. Baitsell of Yale University does not take exactly the same view, as he is apparently content with the results of the ordinary method at the school level. For college students, however, he is "
more » ... ver, he is " impressed with the necessity of supplying new and vital material. at an advanced level for the basic courses." He Pnds that " the great majority of students beginning work in .college biology were, inherently, far more interested in acquiring knowledge about the human organism than they were concerning any other living species," and "student interest in any subject is naturally expected to lead to increased endeavour." In Human Biology he has written a textbook for such students, and a most excellent textbook it is. He attempts "essentially a humanizing of general biology," and holds that " if the human biology material is presented from a comparative standpoint the student will learn not only the biology of man but also biology in its broader aspects, for man is a part of, not apart from, the world of life. . . . Organisms perform the same vital functions in essentially the same way." It is important to realize this standpoint if the purpose, scope, and usefulness of the book are to be fully appreciated. It is an admirable textbook of human physiology, but it widens out in several directions beyond the usual content of such textbooks and, by doing so, illuminates and quickens interest in its subject. The several chapters on the systematic functions contain adequate, but not disproportionate, material relating to the relevant anatomy, histology, and comparative biology, both plant and animal. For instance, as the author says, " The study of human nutrition cannot be completed until the photosynthetic processes of the green plkants and the decay processes of the colourless plants are brought into the picture." The full and clear exposition of enzyme action given in the book involves wide reference to organic catalysts concerned in every vital process. The human brain and heart can scarcely be understood without some description of these organs in less highly developed animals, and the account of human reproduction and heredity necessitates extensive reference to that in other species. In another direction, in chapters on the "Web of Life" and the " Biology of Disease," the author provides an introduction to parasitology, bacteriology, and immunology which is very valuable. The book is easy to read and completely up to date. The numerous illustrations are of a most helpful kind. An unusual feature, perhaps unique, is an appendix of almost a hundred pages which contains paragraphs or short articles comprising further information, historical or expository, on many matters dealt with, or referred to, in the body of the work-for example, biological elements, enzymes, organic evolution. These are either direct quotations from authorities on the subject, or amplifications by the author, or in a few cases contributions by others. Incidentally the article on " Lymph " (more than one reference to which is given) appears to have gone astray. There is a good index. Altogether the work is so excellent and comprehensive that it should tend to become one of the most popular physiological and biological textbooks for medical students and others, here as well as in America.
doi:10.1136/bmj.1.4187.515-b fatcat:tzxvz3gtpng5zlfvcemmkfkzcm