It’s just as unreasonable to think that a piece of paper gauze will stop you from getting sick as it is to think that a plaster mask stuffed with herbs will. But that’s the problem with how we remember major infectious disease events of the past – we remember that people died, but we don’t think a lot about how we might be repeating their mistakes.
When a pandemic worms its way into our collective consciousness, fighting the disease is no longer just about fighting the virus, but also about fighting the social anxieties that surround it.
In this series, I’m talking about big issues in how we think about our scientific past. This week I’m dealing with the specter of epidemic disease. Read the first post in this series, on ancient Greece and math. Read the second post, on the Scientific Revolution. Read the third post, on astronomy and astrology. Read More