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The early life of Claude Bernard - dreamer and frustrated playwright - reveals no indication of his future scientific aptitude. Cartesian doubt, a principle that he would adhere to lifelong, clouded a failed pharmacy apprenticeship that led to medical studies in Paris - but without great success. Research was his only aim, it was made possible only by a lucrative but unsuccessful arranged marriage. His passion for work and over-riding principles of truth and proof would ultimately allow him to stand out from his peers with recognition by multiple French professional societies - and the wider scientific world. In today's world, the two centuries-long practice of homeopathy illustrates his abhorrence of ''practice without proof'': a dominance by economic factors that is apparent in cancer chemotherapy, where new drug approval is often based on statistics rather than genuine clinical benefit. Bernard was indeed sceptical about the (ab)use of statistics - a caution even more necessary today. His experimental method stands out as a signal principle in research. This was cleverly taken out of context by Emile Zola, who used it to support his ideas on the literary naturalism that appeared in his Rougon-Macquart cycle of books - and that led him to dedicate his book, Le Roman Expérimental, to Claude Bernard himself.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Biologie aujourd'hui
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Sponsor: IMEA - Fondation Internationale Léon Mba C.H.U. Bichat - Claude Bernard 46, Rue Henri Huchard - 75018 PARIS Tél. : 01.40. 25. 63. 65 - Fax : 01.40.25.63.56 Coordinating investi...
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