Apr 20·edited Apr 21Liked by Steve Templeton, PhD.

When I was younger, I always pictured William Farr as pompous and a man who let his arrogance blind him to the obviousness of what Snow was showing.

I recently read a biography of him [1] and came to realize my assumptions were completely misplaced. More amazing than discovering how Cholera was transmitted to, was that Farr realized he was wrong, admit it, and seek change based his error.

Yes, it took him 9 years of being wrong, and John Snow long since died, but that makes it more impressive how he was able to come to terms with his error.

I wonder if, rather than discussing his ideas in the London Statistical Society, he had been on Twitter and TWIV proclaiming Snow was wrong and it was clearly the elevation differences that cause Cholera, would it have been harder to admit error? Or would he have boxed himself in to an inescapable echo chamber?

[1] Victorian Social Medicine: The Ideas and Methods of William Farr


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Apr 23Liked by Steve Templeton, PhD.

It's easy to take modern things, like toilets, for granted. It's stories like this that remind me how fortunate we are. Thanks for the perspective!

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