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Leaps in the Dark
Thus we hear of Max von Pettenkofer, who thought that outbreaks of cholera depended on local soil conditions. His theory was actually more successful than the germ theory in predicting outbreaks, and what is more he was willing to drink a flask full of germs to prove his point - he didn't get cholera. Clearly the makings of a heroic story, but for one thing - hindsight proved him wrong. Thus Koch was presented as the hero, and Pettenkofer as an idiot who delayed the truth. Other stories tell of how the establishment resisted the obvious, such as Newton splitting white light, or the use of lemons against scurvy - but was it really so obvious? This book shows that more detailed research will often tell a different story, and it is well worth reading.