Michal Jasienski [The Scientist, March 4, 1996, page 10] wrote that self-experimentation and single-subject studies "represent a seriously flawed scientific methodology. Consequently, the results of all single-subject studies are bound to be erroneous." Quite a sweeping statement! Three momentous studies that disprove Jasienski's assertion come to mind:
In the early 19th century, Italian physicist Alessandro Volta realized that existing electrometers were inadequate to measure currents generated by voltaic elements. He used his bodily senses to quantitate currents-today believed sufficient to cause lethal arrhythmias on a less corpulent man than Volta-thus finding a sustained source of electricity.
French chemist Louis Pasteur successfully administered his curative vaccine for rabies to one person, thus initiating immunotherapy and immunology.
In our century, Werner Forssmann passed a ureteral catheter through a forearm vein into his heart and roentgenographically documented it.
Certainly Volta, Pasteur, and Forssmann's experiments were not erroneous. Humanity will continue to...