Why did I ask Dino Dogan to write this post for me? Because I knew that if he writes it it's going to be awesome! What does this post have to do with dogs? Read it and judge for yourself. (If you don't like reading and want to listen to this instead, you can do that here)
12 Monkeys (aff) - starring Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis - do yourself a favor. Buy it, rent it, steal it....do whatever you have to do to watch it because it is that great. My top 5 all time favs.
One of the most memorable scenes was when Jeffrey (Brad Pitt’s character) and Cole (Bruce Willis’ character) were in the insane asylum discussing the Germ Theory.
It went like this.
JEFFREY: You know what "crazy" is? "Crazy" is "majority rules". Take germs for example.Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis is one of the most fascinating tales of off all time IMHO.
JEFFREY: In the 18th century there was no such thing! Nobody'd ever imagined such a thing -- no sane person anyway. Along comes this doctor...Semmelweis, I think. He tries to convince people... other doctors mostly...that there are these teeny tiny invisible "bad things" called germs that get into your body and make you...sick! He's trying to get doctors to wash their hands. What is this guy...crazy? Teeny tiny invisible whaddayou call 'em?..."germs"!
It goes like this.
Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis was a Hungarian physician working at the Vienna General Hospital back in 1847.
There are three logistical facts you should know about his story.
- Vienna General was divided into two wings. One wing was used as a training-ground for young student doctors where any and all types of operations, surgeries, and general care was being provided to patients for free since it was a teaching hospital.
- The other wing was tended to by midwives and catered to half the preggos that came through the door.
- Mortality rate for new mothers -due to something they called child bed fever- was 10% in one of the wings.The other wing had the mortality rate of 4%.
The fact is that the 10% mortality rate was well known around Vienna and the wing that gave you one of 10 chances of surviving a pregnancy was the wing that was inhabited by authoritative doctors in white coats.
If you are surprised, don't be.
Doctors have a long history of being plain old wrong.
In 1960s doctors cited research that “showed” commercial formulas to be superior to Mother’s milk. In fact, by the early 1970s, over 75% of babies in the United States were fed on formulas, almost entirely commercially produced. (source: Wikipedia)
This supposed research has been debunked since then, but not until it took hold in hearts and minds of many folks especially in underdeveloped nations. Thanks to industrial strength ad campaigns performed by PR geniuses like Edward Bernays.
Sidenote: I could be wrong on this, but I believe that the Culture Code (aff) of wealthy Mexicans is that its “peasant like” to feed the kid its Mother’s milk (based on my observations alone, I would love for someone to comment on this). In other words, in Mexico, the baby formula is preferred (a show of status of sorts) over Mother’s milk.
Another example of doctors being moronic is when they acted as shills for tobacco companies.
From 1920s until it became illegal few decades later, doctors advertised cigarettes.
In China, doctors still recommend cigarettes to their patients.
Not coincidentally, tobacco industry in China is run by the Chinese Government.
From pills that plain-old don't work (or make things worse) to unnecessary surgeries; doctors -those authority figures in white coats- have a long history of being wrong.
But lets get back to Semmelweis.
Semmelweis eventually suspected that whats killing new mothers were these “cadaver particles” carried on the hands of white-coats as they went from doing autopsies to delivering babies.
What might be even more disturbing is that a study after study shows that doctors washing their hands is still a novelty act to this day.
See: Superfreakonomics (aff) A bestselling book by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
In any case, Semmelweis devised and implemented a system where all doctors, nurses and midwives are to wash their hands diligently in a lime solution when moving from one patient to another. The mortality rate plummeted to less than 1 patient in a 100 for both hospital wings.
And now for the truly bizarre twist.
Despite Semmelweis’ best efforts to spread his system of “washing hands in a lime solution” to other hospitals, he was not only unsuccessful at it, but he was ridiculed and eventually discredited and wound up in the same place Jeffrey (Brad Pitt) and Cole (Bruce Willis) had their conversation about Semmelweis. The insane asylum.
The average white coat back then would say something like this:
Note: You must sound Indignant as you read this next line.
What? Me? I'm to blame for these women dying? Surely you jest. But I’m a doctor. Of higher class and stature than these peasants who can't even afford to pay for their own medical treatment. Why should I, a nobleman, have to wash MY hands to handle mere peasants? Why Semmelweis, you are crazy indeed.
Your average doctor from 1840s would probably sound something like that but do you think your average doctor from today would sound different?
As it turns out, another physician and a scientist wrote the last chapter in the book on Semmelweis’ life. That physician was Louis Pasteur who -in 1865- developed his Germ theory of disease thanks to another scientific breakthrough (i.e. microscope).
Semmelweis was ultimately redeemed and proven correct but unfortunately he was long dead by then. He died in that insane asylum at the age of 47.
Semmelweis’ story ends there, but ours doesn't.
In the year 50BC (approx) M. T. Varro wrote "in swampy places minute creatures live that cannot be discerned with the eye and they enter the body through the mouth and nostrils and cause serious diseases."
That's as far back as we can trace. In between 50BC and 1846 there were many instances where “minute creatures” were suspected of nefarious doings.
I suspect that part of the reason doctors were resistant to change (wash their hands) is because they simply didn't know. They didn't have access to the Internet back in 1846. Information was scarce. But my point is...the information was out there.
Do you think experts -generally speaking- consider themselves well informed?
Do you think they all believe that they are correct in their assertions? (Whatever assertions those might be)
Do you think that experts are the only ones prone to this kind of self-deception?
Do you think you (and I) might suffer from the same doctoropathy disease from time to time?
Whats my point? Not sure, but lets see if we can tie one on.
To a worm in horse radish, the world is all horse radish.
When making our judgments, its safe to assume that we are all just a worm in horse radish. We don't have all the information and therefore none of us are qualified to pass our judgments on another. Especially if those judgments will send someone to an insane asylum.
Dino Dogan is a blogger, writer, biker, dog trainer, singer/songwriter, Martial Artist. Currently working on Human-Dog Problem Tree; a thesis in human-dog relationship. Check out Dino's great blog at Dogan Dogs Video Blogs, or connect with Dino on Twitter or Facebook.