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    #1

    may well have been ...

    Hi

    I have a little problem with the correct understanding of thie 2nd part of the sentence below:

    In fact, until the advances of modern medicine and hygiene during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, they (the hunter-gatherers) may well have been less aflicted with disease than any other human beings in history.

    --- Can you make it clearer?


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    #2

    Re: may well have been ...

    Quote Originally Posted by GUEST2008 View Post
    Hi

    I have a little problem with the correct understanding of thie 2nd part of the sentence below:

    In fact, until the advances of modern medicine and hygiene during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, they (the hunter-gatherers) may well have been less aflicted with disease than any other human beings in history.

    --- Can you make it clearer?
    "May have been" is a kind of "maybe (it was so.)"

    Adding "well" is an intensifier -- "very possibly (it was so.)"

    So the sentence could have been written

    they might have been less afflicted
    It is quite possible that they were less afflicted
    Very possibly they were less afflicted
    It's entirely possible that they were less afflicted
    It's likely that they were less afflicted

    The idea is that since diseases are spread from person-to-person, a small and scattered population would never be infected with a particular disease in sufficient numbers to constitute a reservoir.

    So isolated bands of humans would not catch any particular disease because there were not enough humans to keep up the chain of contagion from person to person. Any disease that affected one small band would burn itself out before it got a chance to spread to others.

    This changed as soon as people began to live in large groups. Then there was always someone with cholera or smallpox somewhere in the population. They harbored the germs, so anyone without immunity would end up being exposed to these microorganisms.

    It was only the inventions of modern medicine that stopped this endless transmission -- vaccinations, antibiotics, and public health measures regarding clean food and water now break the chain of transmission.

    But thinking about all the history before modern medicine, our first hunter-gatherer ancestors very possibly had very little disease.
    That is, they may well have been less afflicted with disease than anyone else in history.

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    #3

    Re: may well have been ...

    Thanks for these thorough explanations.
    So it says that in the 19th and the 20th centuries there was a hugh development of medicine, and before that time the hunter gatherers were probably the healthies people in the human history.
    Cheers


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    #4

    Re: may well have been ...

    Quote Originally Posted by GUEST2008 View Post
    Thanks for these thorough explanations.
    So it says that in the 19th and the 20th centuries there was a hugh development of medicine, and before that time the hunter gatherers were probably the healthies people in the human history.
    Cheers
    I think the discovery of the meaning of the microscopic world is one of the most important events ever in the entire history of humankind.

    The work of Louis Pasteur and others created for the benefit of humanity:

    - the Germ Theory of Disease
    (replacing the previous Divine Retribution Theory of Disease, Planetary Alignment Theory of Disease, and Bad Smell Theory of Disease)

    - This led to concepts such as:
    * Antibiotics
    * Sterile surgery
    * The end of smallpox, childbed fever (puerperal fever), cholera, anthrax, rabies, and tuberculosis in his own lifetime -- and almost all the other bacterial diseases by our lifetime
    * Vaccination
    * Public health regulations about clean food and water, and related public health measures (such as quarantine)
    * Control of food crop diseases (such as the Late Blight of potatoes, anthrax in cattle, tuberculosis from milk, silkworm disease, etc)
    * Methods for the sterile preservation of food, especially canning
    * Control of food processing infections (botulism, wine cask infections, dairy product infections, beer brewing, bread dough failures and other fermentation disorders)

    Without these developments, if ten people are reading this post, nine of you would be dead.

    You'd have died from bubonic plague, cholera, tuberculosis, or smallpox -- along with your entire family. If you escaped that, you would have died of wound infections, or the impossibility to have surgery (for cancer or appendicitis, say), or in childbirth. A puncture wound was a death sentence from tetanus, an animal bite was a death sentence from rabies, a belly wound was a sentence to a prolonged and miserable death. Measles, chicken pox, diphtheria, mumps, and pneumonia killed children in droves. If none of those killed you, you would just have starved to death.

    It's impossible to overrate the significance of Pasteur's work
    Louis Pasteur (1822-1895)

    The concepts and practices elaborated from his study of microorganisms -- and the strict scientific rigor he practiced and demanded -- are among the most important achievements in the history of the world.

    Here's a graph showing the date that we learned how to stop nature from whacking us prematurely



    The uptick in population begins with the control of infectious diseases-- started by Louis Pasteur.

    I think it's interesting to observe that the advent of numerous Gods (or their representative) offering salvation -- as well as advising us on the techniques of the spiritual life that God prefers -- didn't make even so much as a blip in the number of deaths from, for example, rabies.

    In fact, in the entire history of the world, no one was ever spared from death by rabies by praying to God.

    Little Joseph Meister was spared from death by rabies, however, by praying to Louis Pasteur.

    And if you get rabies, he'll be the reason you won't die too.

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    #5

    Re: may well have been ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ann1977 View Post

    It's impossible to overrate the significance of Pasteur's work
    Louis Pasteur (1822-1895)
    I agree with the main thrust of your argument, but Edward Jenner was vaccinating people against smallpox in the early 1800s before Pasteur was born.


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    #6

    Re: may well have been ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I agree with the main thrust of your argument, but Edward Jenner was vaccinating people against smallpox in the early 1800s before Pasteur was born.
    That's right. Jenner was one of humanity's greatest benefactors. The very word "vaccination" comes from the word for "cow" -- because of Jenner's use of cowpox.

    He was prevented from wider applications of his discovery by the absence of a theoretical basis for it; his was an empirical discovery compared to Pasteur's.

    People had been sneaking up on the idea that diseases were transmitted by invisible bodies for a long time:

    A 14th century Andalusian physician, Ibn al-Khatib, wrote a treatise called On the Plague, in which he stated:
    "The existence of contagion is established by experience, investigation, the evidence of the senses and trustworthy reports. These facts constitute a sound argument. The fact of infection becomes clear to the investigator who notices how he who establishes contact with the afflicted gets the disease, whereas he who is not in contact remains safe, and how transmission is affected through garments, vessels and earrings."


    But it wasn't until the publication of Koch's postulates in 1890 that actual scientific proof -- demonstrable, repeatable, with-controls, quantifiable proof -- replaced the hopelessly useless "sound argument" approach.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koch%27s_Postulates

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