Some Standard Wisdom for Avoiding Epidemics

Sun
Continuing with the theme of amusing ourselves at the expense of the level of scientific and technical knowledge in 1880, the Christian Standard published extensive quotes from and commentary on an article by E. W. Cushing which first appeared in the International Review:

We are apparently on the climax—which arrives in 1882—of a cycle of epidemics, which coincides with the sun spots of some eleven years and a fraction. As he argues, it is a time of great disturbances in temperatures, etc….After a carefully prepared table of the great epidemics known in history, which are shown to correspond very clearly with the semi-changes, he concludes: “Now what can these general influences be, this general cause, this morbific influence of an unknown nature? Does the earth itself change periodically? No. Does the mass of air or water change? No. What can change them? The force, the heat, the energy which is derived directly from the sun. Does this change regularly, periodically, and at intervals corresponding with those of this pestilence? It certainly does; and all these strange natural phenomena which we have seen to have been observed in all ages as the forerunners or accompaniments of epidemics are now known to depend on, or at least to coincide with, the changes of solar energy corresponding with the sun spot cycle. Here is certainly the post hoc; shall we not admit the propter hoc?”

Depending on what the fraction is in “eleven years and a fraction,” I fear we may be due for another period of epidemic disease in 2013. Oh wait.

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