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Meme Machines

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Division of Cardiology, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and the UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California

Ann Intern Med. 1986;105(5):788-789. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-105-5-788
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The same man who so succinctly digested the wisdom of multivariate analysis more than 2000 years before Thomas Bayes, Karl Friedrich Gauss, and Sir Ronald Fisher also served up a good deal of the "predigested" (2) variety in the form of his aphorisms (3). It is unlikely that you will encounter any of the 412 surviving Hippocratic aphorisms on morning rounds, but although most of them are hopelessly dated in content, they remain timeless in style. The clinical "pearl," the rule-of-thumb, the mnemonic, the algorithm, the heuristic, and the decision tree all trace their evolutionary lineage back to these aphorisms.


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