1/31/2020

Draining the swamp

"1) A naive or cursory look at the history gives a simplistic account: Medicine reduced disease! Science saves lives!

2) A closer look reveals that disease mortality was dropping long before antibiotics or vaccines. So (some hastily conclude) medicine didn’t really matter after all—so much for better living through science!

3) An even closer look shows that actually, the germ theory led to sanitation and hygiene improvements decades before we had specific treatments. So, as with the steam engine, it turns out science was relevant, just not in the obvious first place one might look.

4) Finally, the galaxy-brain take looks not only at direct influences but indirect/cultural ones: The Scientific Revolution led to new ways of experimenting and collecting/analyzing data that led to practical improvements (in waste disposal and insect control) long before we had a fundamental scientific theory."