Exploring Human Potential

The Free Online Lecture on “American Epidemics” is May 10th. Here’s What You’ll Learn.

Posted on | March 21, 2022 | 2 Comments

Mike Magee

On May 10th, at noon, I’ll be delivering a FREE live online luncheon lecture titled: “The History of Epidemics in America.” What’s in it? For that, you’ll need to tune in. I’ll be providing the proper link as we get closer to the date.

It’s a once-only, slide lecture – entertaining and enjoyable, with text available after the lecture online. (So no need to take notes.) Here are 15 “learnings” we’ll cover:

  1. Epidemics, as historians have emphasized are “social, political, philosophical, medical, and above all ecological events.”
  2. Competing and complimentary species cycles in pursuit of nutrition and reproduction maintain, or distort, ecological balance.
  3. Populations initially respond to epidemics with fear and flight. Scapegoating and societal turmoil are common features. Diseases disadvantage the poor, the weak, and those without immunity or prior exposure.
  4. Epidemics often travel side by side with warfare in transmitting and carrying microbes, and exposing vulnerable populations. Historically, epidemics have repeatedly played a role in determining the ultimate outcomes of warfare and conflict.
  5. Throughout history, scientific advances have enabled (through enhancements in travel, congregation, and the ability to enter into virgin territory) epidemics, and also provided the knowledge and tools to combat epidemics.
  6. Domestication and sharing of animals has enhanced the introduction of microbes to populations vulnerable to epidemic disease.
  7. Disease, associated with aggression, has been the major factor in destruction of native cultures and decimating native populations in the Americas.
  8. Slavery was largely a response to workforce demands created by the epidemic eradication of native populations intended to serve as indentured servants on large agricultural plantations that raised and exported highly lucrative products into Old World markets.
  9. Epidemics often result in unintended consequences. For example, Yellow Fever and the defeat of the French in Saint-Domingue led to Napoleon’s divestment of the Louisiana Territory. Struggles to control and explain the Yellow Fever outbreak in Philadelphia in 1793 helped define the emergence of two very different branches of American Medicine over the next century.
  10. Scientists defining “germ theory” and social engineers leading the “sanitary movement” reinforced each other’s efforts to lessen urban centers vulnerability to epidemics.
  11. Immunization has a long and controversial history. As enlightened public policy, it has saved many lives. It can, as illustrated by the Eugenics Movement, create uncomfortable legal precedents and unintended consequences.
  12. The U.S. scientific community prematurely declared victory over communicable diseases in the 1960s.
  13. In the wake of HIV/AIDS, some scientific leaders actively warned of ongoing population wide vulnerabilities beginning in 1992.
  14. Genetic reverse engineering technologies empowering “gain-of-function” research led to Consensus Statements in 2014 warning of potential disastrous consequences, and epidemics that would be difficult to control.
  15. The U.S. Health Care System in leadership, strategic operation, mitigation, and delivery of acute services failed on a large scale when confronted with the Covid-19 pandemic.


2 Responses to “The Free Online Lecture on “American Epidemics” is May 10th. Here’s What You’ll Learn.”

  1. Laura Hudgins
    March 22nd, 2022 @ 2:42 pm

    Thank You, and I’m interested to view the presentation, on epidemics.

  2. Mike Magee
    March 22nd, 2022 @ 2:57 pm

    Thanks, Laura. Several weeks before the date I’ll post the link for all. Best, Mike

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