Historical vignettes are often included in scientific otological articles. However, they may contain inaccuracies and errors when authors use secondary or compiled texts rather than primary source material.
Examples of errors arising from the use of secondary sources are obtained from compiled works in comparison with original publications, with a particular focus on Hildanus
Different types of inaccuracies may be found in historical vignettes. In Hildanus
' works, two different specula are depicted: one was described by himself during his lifetime, and the other after his death, probably by his publisher. Only the posthumous description of Hildanus
' speculum has been retained historically, but it is uncertain that it was really developed by Hildanus
himself. Other such inaccuracies exist because of confusion with the original terminology of referring to an instrument, such as the otoscopes of Toynbee and Brunton, inaccuracies in dates, misinterpretation of the original text, such as the attribution to Charcot as the first to propose the intracranial division of the eighth nerve in Menière's disease, and problems of translation (e.g., the different translations of the book titled Diseases of the Ear
by Wilhelm Kramer).
These different examples of inaccuracies show the common problems encountered in writing a historical report. Authors must be aware of such errors and work almost exclusively with original references
. Secondary and compiled references
should be reserved for a background of discussion and not as a source of direct support.