RE: virus: Germ Warfare (was: Being uncomfortable isn't always bad)

carlw (
Fri, 5 Feb 1999 05:45:16 -0600

Though I generally agree, it was certainly a part of Semmelweis' original experiment and mentioned in his book... He went from 0 to 7 scrubs to investigate the effect on incedences of puerpal infection. His studies were models of the scientific method at work. Observation, hypothesis, experiment, conclusion, theory.
And I know at least some of his experiments were repeated at Edinburgh (home of modern surgical practice in Europe) and in Boston, though I'd have to do a fair bit of digging to find references. I don't find a "horses mouth" citation, but look at for an interesting read.


-----Original Message-----
From: []On Behalf Of Tim Rhodes
Sent: Friday, February 05, 1999 5:38 AM
Subject: virus: Germ Warfare (was: Being uncomfortable isn't always bad)

Richard wrote:

>You must be joking.
>The efficacy of sterilization has been known since Pasteur.

You cannot sterilize skin. (At least not if you're planning on using your fingers for anything more than blistering afterwards!) Latex barriers (gloves) have been proven effective scientificly. But deep prolonged scrubbing of the hands and arms--frankly, anything more than a simple washing with anti-bacterial soap as you or I might do before we eat--has yet to be the subject of any scientific testing.

But if you can find a single study in the literature to prove me wrong, I will be more than happy to recant.

Few people realize how much of the _actual practice_ of modern medicine is based on tradition rather than experimentation. But then, it's in no ones interest for you to discover this--least of all your own. It could only serve to undermine the illusion of "control over disease" that it is vital for your doctor to promote and maintain in you. Without it, they would loose the capacity to trigger your body's own ablities to fight off disease--and this is an important factor in any treatment.

One thing which has been the subject of several studies, for instance, is the very simple fact that if you believe that the person treating you has power to cure you, your odds of recovery go up dramaticly, along with shortened recovery times and fewer complications from the treatment.

This is a very useful sort of "faith" that we do well to preserve between ourselves and our physicians.

-Prof. Tim