Observation and bodily fluids

While preparing for a course in Inductive Bible Study, I came across this delightful story:

“Sir William Osler, the eminent physician, always sought to impress upon young medical students the importance of observing details.  While stressing this point in a lecture before a student group he indicated a bottle on his desk.  ‘This bottle contains a sample for analysis,’ he announced.  ‘It’s possible by testing it to determine the disease from which the patient suffers.’  Suiting actions to words, he dipped a finger into the fluid and then into his mouth. ‘now,’ he continued, ‘I am going to pass this bottle around.  Each of you taste the contents as I did and see if you can diagnose the case.’  As the bottle was passed from row to row, each student gingerly poked his finger in and bravely sampled the contents.  Osler then retrieved the bottle,  ‘Gentlemen,’ he said, ‘now you will understand what I mean when I speak about the details.  Had you been observant you would have seen that I put my index finger into the bottle but my middle finger into my mouth.'”

Our Human Comedy, R. Macfarlan


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