Sunday Fact Fest, Episode 05: “The Plague of Athens, Hippocrates and what they tell us about COVID-19,” by Marty Rosen.


Riffing on the preceding post, Sunday Fact Fest, Episode 04: Robin’s right. Some Louisville (and SoIN) restaurants are not taking the COVID-19 pandemic as seriously as they should,” Marty Rosen’s F&D column last week was brilliant.

Here is the beginning:

Letter from the Editor: The Plague of Athens, Hippocrates and what they tell us about COVID-19, by Marty Rosen (Food & Dining Magazine)

In the early days of the epidemic, a spate of newspaper and magazine pieces delved into classic literary works dealing with contagion. Writers tended to focus on a trio of books on the theme: The Plague (1947) by Albert Camus; A Journal of the Plague Year (1722); and The Decameron (1353) by Giovanni Boccaccio.

All of those are worth a read.

But as with nearly everything in Western culture, the seminal writings on plagues, pestilence, and epidemics have come down to us from Greek writers who lived 2500 years ago.

And the hard-hitting conclusion.

The coronavirus epidemic, like the Plague of Athens – and all such disasters – is a medical and scientific challenge that calls for cool, rational analysis and evidence by people who are wise and disinterested, and free of superstition. It’s a challenge that calls for leaders whose eyes are wide-open and whose only motivation is the health and safety of their people.

Social media – and plenty of official political discourse – is now running over with bogus “information,” some of it carefully curated to look like science, including excerpts from actual scientific papers to advance arguments that the authors never intended. Logic, evidence, and rational analysis – the stuff that Hippocrates called for – are confronted with conspiracy theories, superstition, and insane claims about cleaning fluid cures.

People with not a shred of actual scientific knowledge are pretending that they’ve discovered loopholes in the medical and scientific reality of the coronavirus.

Don’t fall for it.

Don’t share it.

Keep your eyes open.

Be a citizen.

Wash your hands.

Keep your distance.

Ask for citations.