pine: picture of big pine tree in California vineyard (Default)
pine ([personal profile] pine) wrote2010-03-01 11:50 pm
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The History of Medicine. Too funny not to share

So I've always been interested in society and medicine and disease. I mean, disease... how can it not be fascinating? My left science list is having a discussion lately on military metaphors in medical discourse - discourse in the broad sense of being not just the language but the ideology and the practice of medicine itself.

As an illustration one of that flist just posted a link to a book that is online for free (YAYY FOR FREE ONLINE BOOKS AND DOWNLOADS) from the U.S. National Academies of Science, "Ending the War Metaphor: The Changing Agenda for Unraveling the Host-Microbe Relationship" (2006).

Here is the opening of page 1. Is this not beautiful? A brilliant sign of hope for what science can be if it ever all becomes this reflexive. Not to mention humble.



The History of Medicine

2000 B.C.—Here, eat this root.

1000 A.D.—That root is heathen. Here, say this prayer.

1850 A.D.—That prayer is superstition. Here, drink this potion.

1920 A.D.—That potion is snake oil. Here, swallow this pill.

1945 A.D.—That pill is ineffective. Here, take this penicillin.

1955 A.D.—Oops…bugs mutated. Here, take this tetracycline.

1960–1999—39 more “oops.” Here, take this more powerful antibiotic.

2000 A.D.—The bugs have won! Here, eat this root.

—Anonymous (World Health Organization, 2000)

Ahhh, my Snapefan self also loves the part about potions! :D There aren't many other HP fans on my radical science list-serve, alas. So I bring it here. My science studies love, let me show you it.

It's amazing to think that this book on medical metaphors, on the language of leading paradigms for understanding infectious disease, is from a conference organized by the (U.S.) Institute of Medicine and National Academy of Sciences. O the slipperiness of meaning; compared to this even bugs are predictable! But neither can be controlled by men in white coats, not with all the gleaming lab equipment in the world (and in the U.S., which spends the most in history to get some of the worst national health results, that's a lotta spending indeed).

I could segue into clever comparisons to fandom were it not well past my bedtime, and me with a persistent headache as well. And a new book to look at! So I leave the analogies to you and take, instead, the book...
feanor: (Default)


[personal profile] feanor 2010-03-05 05:22 am (UTC)(link)
I see... Exactly why did you post this?