Categories
Historical Expertise

Scientists Prove that Herodotus Lied

Flushed with their success in proving when the Iliad was written, scientists have now proven that Herodotus’s Histories do not necessarily reflect universal practices and timeless truths. A pair of anthropologists recently compared Herodotus’s account of Egyptian embalming practices to some scholarly descriptions of and a handful of their own CT scans of surviving mummies. […]

Categories
Academia

Why History Matters—for Some People

I recently wondered aloud about the relevance of history and history of science. I want to distinguish my question from a collective anxiety that seems once again to be gripping the nation. Although my question was specifically about how we make history or history of science relevant to today’s audience, we could substitute “history” for […]

Categories
History

The Rise and Fall of Pilulae

A little searching on EEBO suggests that “pilulae” (and variations such as “pilula” or “pilullae”) enjoyed a heyday of marketing authority for about 20 years in 17th-century England, right around the time people seemed particularly worried about the scurvy epidemic. Although the earliest reference to pilulae in the title appeared in Patrick Anderson’s Grana angelica […]

Categories
History

Pilulae Antipudendagriae—More Early DTC Marketing

Since the late 1990s direct-to-consumer (DTC) pharmaceutical marketing has become a standard part of society in the U.S. (perhaps also in Australia, where DTC advertising is also legal). Ads in magazines and newspapers, on the internet, TV, or the radio promise that taking some wonder drug will alleviate your suffering from any number of symptoms […]

Categories
Historical Expertise

David Nutt is Wrong …

Unfortunately, as David Nutt’s recent comments indicate, journalists, audiences, and scientists themselves too readily assume that universal authority and knowledge inhere science.[1] Expertise in a specific technical scientific domain is readily equated with expertise in general. Knowledge in one domain, however, does not in itself demostrate knowledge in another. According to The Independent and Reuters […]

Categories
Academia

What Relevance does History (of Science) Have?

A recent exchange raised once again the question: what relevance does the history of science have in broader discussions about science and, I would add, about history, culture, society, etc.? The conclusion seems to be: history of science contributes something to conversations about science communication and public engagement in science.[1] I would like to think […]

Categories
History

Remedies for the Plague, ca. 1569—updated

In the preface to his The Gouernance and preseruation of them that feare the Plage, Jan van der Noot thanks the King and Lord Suffolk. In 1559 England did not have a king. A recipe at the end of his text for the medicine of King Henry prompted me to suggest that he was referring […]

Categories
History

Remedies for the Plague, ca. 1569

In 1559 Jan van der Noot published a pamphlet offering his readers signs to predict an outbreak of plague, a list of causes, bedside techniques for comforting the afflicted, and ways of avoiding and curing the plague: The Gouernance and preseruation of them that feare the Plage. (available from EEBO if you are lucky enough […]

Categories
Museums

Baroque Sundials in Austria

As recent posts suggest, I spent the last month working in Central Europe. Here are a couple photos of sundials that can be found on many of the buildings in Austria. At the monastery in Klosterneuburg there is, apparently, a pole-style sundial dating from the mid-fifteenth century. Another sundial from the late sixteenth century adorns […]