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The New York Times June 23, 1913, Page 6

May Do Great Harm In the Hands of the Ignorant.

To the Editor of The New York Times:

The very readable letter to The Times from Dr. William J. Robinson on the subject of poisonous drugs in the household conveys warning from one who should be esteemed as an authority to be heeded.

Those of us unlearned in therapeutics and materia medica are without knowledge of the needs of our physical system in the direction of remedies for some of its ills. As a desultory reader I have at times reached anatomy, physiology, pathology, diagnosis, prognosis, and chemistry, and confess ignorance of all---each a distinct science, but in collaboration in many intricacies in the treatment of ailments.

The most densely ignorant of my acquaintances, according to their acts, seem to have a most intimate knowledge of their internal arrangements. We know of helplessness of the average person in the use of tools, devices, or materials for the general needs of minor handicraft about the home, and the common ignorance of the first principles of mechanical forces exerted at every hand which contribute to our comfort. Selected trades are called into recognition for repairs to watches, locks roofs, lighting, water and heating appurtenances; for shoes, clothing, tonsorial treatment, &c., where the precise needs are apparent at a glance, and in many instances to be provided by small manual skill.

But when the "fearfully and wonderfully made" human body only is out of order great masses of people assume scientific knowledge. A haphazard diagnosis is made in the dark, in a double sense, and indulgence in self prescribed medicines follows. Every medicine is poisonous unless judiciously employed, and the lay consumer is incapable of quantitative and qualitative analysis, and some of them lay their lives on the altar of ignorance. The employment of so-called household remedies must be very extensive because a department store catering largely to poor people recently advertised a bargain sale of medicine cabinets--- a most dangerous possession of the ignorant.
New York, June 17, 1913.