Sælsomme beretninger i lægen og anatomen Thomas Bartholins skrifter
Jesper Brandt Andersen: Curious case reports in the works of the Danish physician and anatomist Thomas Bartholin
Scattered through the voluminous authorship of the Danish physician and anatomist Thomas Bartholin (1616–1680), famous for his discovery of the lymph vessels in the early 1650s, case reports can be found, for which Bartholin was criticized and accused for verbosity and lack of scientific judgment by contemporary scholars and later medical historians. In this article 15 such case reports, mainly from the work Historiarum Anatomicarum Rariorum 1654–1661, are presented, analyzed and perspectivated. It is concluded, that much of the criticism, especially the one submitted by the posteriority and especially during the era of positivism by the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century and the one concerning observations made by Bartholin himself, is unjustified. When practising science himself Bartholin felt responsible for reproducing his observations correctly and trustworthy, and he was not satisfied by making conclusions on the basis of knowledge handed over by others. The author of this article has not succeded in finding one single example indicating that Bartholin doesn’t reproduce his own observations correctly and truthfully. On the other hand there are in his authorship numerous examples of case reports originating from others, which he either didn’t believe himself or at least doubted. When he published case reports originating from other people, he didn’t feel responsible for the truthfulness. His purpose bringing these case reports was to present his reader for new and interesting matter, to entertain his reader, to arouse his reader’s curiosity and to challenge his reader’s own judgment. Thomas Bartholin was one of the most excellent, diligent and passionate intermediaries of scientific matter of his time, and as a scientist he was characterized by openness. Often he was among the first to recognize, verify and publish new knowledge.