, Volume 124, Issue 6, pp 761-762
Date: 15 Nov 2012

The next step in brain tumor classification: “Let us now praise famous men”… or molecules?

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The phrase “Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us” is from the second-century bce text entitled the Wisdom of Sirach or Ecclesiasticus, a book of ethics that played a role in early iterations of the Bible. The phrase was used more recently and most famously in an ironic context, by James Agee and Walker Evans in the title of their classic work of photojournalism, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. This photoessay catalogued portraits of everyday sharecroppers in the southern United States in the 1930s—people who were the very least of “famous men.” The book poignantly drew attention to the problems faced by these impoverished sharecroppers, and drew praise over many decades for its innovative approach to journalism, particularly because of its striking use of the relatively new discipline of photography.

Over the course of the twentieth century, the province of brain tumor classification (and tumor classification in general) was for the most part governed by famous men— ...