Thursday, January 14, 2010
The Germ Theory of Disease
"The steam engine," he decried. "Surely the steam engine is the machine that drove the revolution of society from being largely agrarian to predominantly industrial. It is to this machine that we owe the debt of a century and a half of progress."
Smoothly, I interjected: "My good man, surely you know that the steam engine was invented nearly 2000 years ago by none other than Heron. How could a machine invented 2000 years ago only come to change society 150 years ago?"
Using the cold-forged weapons of facts on logic, he shut down my argument thusly: "Heron invented a steam engine, but it was never exploited as anything more than a curiosity in his day. As such, it had no affect on society until the industrial revolution. I must say that I find your argument to be a tad disingenuous and a non sequitur."
So I lost that argument, and to some extent my friend and I lost respect for each other: he for my fallacious argument, and I for his unforgiving harshness.
Nevertheless, I was right about one thing: the germ theory of disease was a heckuva step in the march of progress, enabling longer life, better education, healthier people and resplendent happiness. All hail the germ theory of disease!