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Showing posts from August 28, 2016

the human geography of attention

The term allergy was invented in 1906. In Mark Jackson’s Allergy: history of a modern malady, it is noted that the man who invented the term, Clemens von Pirque recognized there was something counterintuitive in a disease that seemed to orginate in the immunity to disease. On the  other hand, in 1906, the wonders of the human immune system were not well known. There was some resistance to this linguistic newcomer – I’m tempted to say that the term allergy was treated as an allergen. Jackson’s book is about how the disease – or condition – took off in the 20 th century.  That is, the prevalance rate for allergies climbed throughout the century. Other diseases – tuberculosis and polio – did not – they, famously, declined. And they declined not just because cures were found for them, but also because – at least in the case of tuberculosis – there was a concerted public health effort to alter the environments that favored tuberculosis. It is always worth remembering that the greatest m