John Snow's cholera map

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pages: 304 words: 88,773

The Ghost Map: A Street, an Epidemic and the Hidden Power of Urban Networks. by Steven Johnson


call centre, clean water, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, Dean Kamen, digital map, double helix, edge city, germ theory of disease, Google Earth, Jane Jacobs, John Nash: game theory, John Snow's cholera map, lone genius, Louis Pasteur, mass immigration, megacity, mutually assured destruction, New Urbanism, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, peak oil, side project, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, trade route, unbiased observer, working poor

See also Board of Health Generator, waste-fueled, 217 Genetic studies, application of, 249 Genetic tolerance for alcohol, 103–4 Genomic revolution, 249–50 GeoSentinel, 219 Germ theory of disease, 99, 211, 266n Ghost class, London, 2 Global challenges, 256 Global energy network, 93–94 Global Report on Human Settlements (UN), 232 Global warming, 237–39 Globe (London), and cholera outbreak, 160–61 Golden Square (Soho), 16, 25, 27, 159 cholera outbreak, 51, 53, 81, 83, 161–62 deaths, 57–58, 112 map, 141 Snow and, 75–77, 109 water, 30–31 See also Broad Street (Soho); Soho (London district) Google, 219–20 Gossip, and cholera outbreak, 83 Gould, John, 31 Gould, Stephen Jay, 36 Government and mapping technology, 222 and public health, 113, 120–21 and sanitation, 218 urban, and information, 224 Graham, Thomas, 145 Grand Junction Water Works, 142 Great Exhibition (1851), 12, 41–42, 267n Great Plague (1665), 15–16 “Great Stink” (Thames pollution), 205–6, 207 “Green” cities, 238 Green’s Court, 52, 81–82 Gunpowder, manufacture of, 9 Hall, Benjamin, 29, 112, 134, 145, 147, 163–66, 167, 168, 172, 179, 201 and miasma theory, 183–84, 186–87 and Snow, 204 and waterborne theory, 183 Hamburg, cholera outbreak, 215 Hard Times (Dickens), 29 Harington, John, 11 Harnold, John, 70–71 Harrison (Berwick Street surgeon), 53–54 Hassall, Arthur, 99 Health, cities and, 232 Hemenway, Toby, 233 H5N1 (avian flu virus), 243–48 Hippocrates, and cholera, 33 On Air, Water, and Places, 126–27 History epidemic disease and, 32 turning points, 162–63 London sewers as, 207 urbanization and, 232 Hogarth, William, 18 Homelessness, 3, 218 Hooke, Robert, 281n Horsleydown, cholera outbreak, 70–73 Hospitals, in urban centers, 232–33 Huggins, Edward and John, 142–43, 161 Human consciousness, 44 Human culture, and excrement eating, 40–42 Human excrement, collection of, 8–13 Human genetic change, 42 Human organization, patterns of, 93–94 Hunter-gatherer societies, 92, 103–4, 130 Hunterian School of Medicine (London), 60 Hydrogen sulfide, 129–30, 133 Hysteria, in Victorian era, 87 Iberall, Arthur, 93–94 Ideas cross-disciplinary flow of, in cities, 225–26 incorrect, 126 Immune system, 133 Index case (Broad Street), 177, 178–79, 199–200 India, cholera outbreaks, 215 Industrial Age, 18 and cholera, 33 See also Industrial Revolution Industrial Revolution, 92–93, 94–95, 271n Infant mortality rates, 232, 233 Infectious diseases, Web mapping of, 219 Influence of Snow’s map, 198–201 Information technology, 218–19, 224–25 Inner-city air, as disease source, 69–70, 74 Inner-city life, in Victorian era, 171 Insulin, 223 Intellectual progress, 135, 149 Internal-constitution theory of cholera spread, 132–33 Internet, 218–19, 236–37 John Snow sites, 259, 261 Istanbul, Sultaneyli village, 216 Jacobs, Jane, 18, 221–22 Death and Life of the Great American City, 235 James, John, 34 Jennings, George, 12 John Snow (pub), 228 Kamen, Dean, 217 Kay-Shuttleworth, James, 265n Kemp House, 227 Killingworth Colliery, 59 Knossos, composting pits, 5 Knowledge, Internet and, 218–19 Koch, Robert, 213 Koch, Tom, 196, 275n Lactose tolerance, 103–4 Lambeth water company, 105–8 Lancet, The, 46 and contagion theory, 69 editors of, 15, 168 obituary of Snow, 206 Snow and, 61, 64, 205, 213, 269n Largest cities, 215–16 Latta, Thomas, 45, 155 Lea River, 210–11 Leather-tanning process, 4, 263–64n Lewis, Sarah, 21–22, 178–79, 181, 187–88 Lewis, Thomas, 21, 31, 187 Lewis infant, 21–22, 35, 54, 178–79 Whitehead and, 199 Life expectancy, in cities, 84, 232–33, 236 Lion Brewery, 28–29, 31, 81, 142–43, 146, 153 Liszt, Franz, 18 Little Dorrit (Dickens), 29 Local knowledge, 147 Internet and, 218–19 in urban environments, 225 Locock, Dr.

page 54 All but one would perish Whitehead 1854, p. 5. page 58 But one Soho resident The details of John Snow’s investigation of the Broad Street outbreak are drawn primarily from his account of the outbreak and its aftermath, in his report published in the Cholera Inquiry Committee report of 1855, and in his revised monograph, On the Mode and Communication of Cholera. page 59 He would largely avoid meat Details on Snow’s life up to his cholera investigations are drawn from four primary sources: Richardson’s hagiographic “Life of John Snow,” published shortly after Snow’s death; David Shephard’s biography John Snow: Anaesthetist to a Queen and Epidemiologist to a Nation; the superb Cholera, Chloroform, and the Science of Medicine; and Ralph Frerichs’ invaluable John Snow Web archive hosted by UCLA’s School of Public Health. page 60 A university degree opened “With a consulting practice and beds in one of the London teaching hospitals for his patients, a man of the right character and background could achieve fame of a sort treating high society.

Though it doesn’t deal directly with cholera, Carl Zimmer’s Parasite Rex is also a fascinating exploration of our microscopic fellow-travelers. For a unnerving look at the failure of modern public-health infrastructure, see Laurie Garrett’s Betrayal of Trust. The story of the Broad Street outbreak itself has been sketched in numerous books, usually with significant distortions. Many accounts assume that Snow created the map during the outbreak, or that he developed the waterborne theory from his investigations at Broad Street. Henry Whitehead is often ignored altogether. And so the best sources for understanding the outbreak are still John Snow and Henry Whitehead themselves. Their various published accounts of the events are available online at the UCLA site, and at a special John Snow archive hosted by Michigan State University.

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The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters by Rose George


American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Anton Chekhov, Bob Geldof, Celtic Tiger, clean water, glass ceiling, indoor plumbing, informal economy, job satisfaction, John Snow's cholera map, joint-stock company, land reform, New Urbanism, Potemkin village, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, Steven Pinker, urban planning

Good sanitation is also economically sensible. A government that provides adequate sanitation saves money on hospital visits avoided, and does not lose labor days to dysentery or workers to cholera. Where good sanitation exists, people are wealthier, healthier, and cleaner. When sanitarians talk about history, their time line usually begins on a Friday morning in 1854, when Dr. John Snow, a doctor in London’s Soho, removed the handle from a water pump in Broad Street because he was the first to understand that cholera was traveling in excrement that got into the water supply and the awful consequences of this fact (in 1849, cholera killed over 50,000 people nationwide). Sewers followed; flush toilets flourished. By now, modern living provides nearly everyone with one or several magic disposal units that make excrement disappear and that act as a barrier between humans and their potentially toxic waste.

Jenkins and Steven Sugden, “Rethinking Sanitation: Lessons and Innovation for Sustainability and Success in the New Millennium,” Human Development Report Office Occasional Paper No. 27 (New York: United Nations Development Programme, 2006), p. 25. U.S. patent 6,242,489 Available at Or as a taggant The Sunshine Project, Backgrounder Series #8, July 2001, John Snow never patented Peter Vinten-Johansen, Cholera, Chloroform and the Science of Medicine: A Life of John Snow (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), p. 113. If toilets were like mobile phones Marion W. Jenkins and Steven Sugden, “Rethinking Sanitation—Lessons and Innovation for Sustainability and Success in the New Millennium,” Human Development Report Sanitation Thematic Paper 2006, p. 10. A toilet shop was a great idea Steadman and Associates, “Social Marketing for Urban Sanitation Pilot Survey in Keko Mwanga B,” (Dar-es-Salaam: Steadman & Associates (T) Ltd., 2003).

Ogden is bemused by this, but he made the first few pumps. He won’t need to do them again, because the point of the Gulper is that it can be copied. I see this attitude often in sanitarians. Dr. Pathak of Sulabh; Joe Madiath of Gram Vikas; the two Steves. None has applied for patents. None wants to remove his useful ideas into expensive inaccessibility. This generosity has a fine historical precedent: Dr. John Snow, the great Victorian doctor who identified the source of cholera, never patented any of his medical advances despite being a good enough ether practitioner to be requested by Queen Victoria when she gave birth. Patenting is daft, according to the two Steves. It defeats the purpose. “The idea,” says Sugden, “is to develop something a small-scale sector can afford and adopt. If you patent it, it’s expensive and they can’t adopt it.

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Where Good Ideas Come from: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson


Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, cleantech, complexity theory, conceptual framework, cosmic microwave background, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, digital Maoism, digital map, discovery of DNA, Dmitri Mendeleev, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Ernest Rutherford, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, greed is good, Hans Lippershey, Henri Poincaré, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, invention of air conditioning, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of the telephone, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, John Snow's cholera map, Joseph Schumpeter, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Kevin Kelly, lone genius, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, Mason jar, mass immigration, Mercator projection, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, online collectivism, packet switching, PageRank, patent troll, pattern recognition, price mechanism, profit motive, Ray Oldenburg, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, side project, Silicon Valley, silicon-based life, six sigma, Solar eclipse in 1919, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Great Good Place, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, urban planning

For more on Ronald Burt’s analysis of social networks and organizational innovation, see his “Social Contagion and Innovation” and Social Origins of Good Ideas. Richard Ogle gives a riveting account of the exaptative creativity of Watson and Crick in Smart World. For more on Apple’s design and development processes, see Lev Grossman’s “How Apple Does It.” Howard Gruber describes his “networks of enterprise” in his essay “The Evolving Systems Approach to Creative Work.” For more on John Snow’s diverse intellectual interests, see Peter Vinten-Johansen’s Cholera, Chloroform, and the Science of Medicine and my Ghost Map. CHAPTER 7: PLATFORMS Charles Lyell’s uniformitarian theory is outlined in his Principles of Geology. For more on Lyell’s reaction to Darwin’s idea, see the correspondence included in Darwin’s Autobiography. For more on the concept of a keystone species, see R. T. Paine’s “Conversation on Refining the Concept of Keystone Species,” published in Conservation Biology.

None of these passions were central to the argument that would eventually be published as On the Origin of Species, but each contributed useful links of association and expertise to the problem of evolution. The same eclectic pattern appears in countless other biographies. Joseph Priestley bounced between chemistry, physics, theology, and political theory. Even in the years before he became a political statesman, Benjamin Franklin conducted electricity experiments, theorized the existence of the Gulf Stream, designed stoves, and of course made a small fortune as a printer. While John Snow was solving the mystery of cholera in the streets of London in the 1850s, he was also inventing state-of-the-art technology for the administration of ether, publishing research on lead poisoning and the resuscitation of stillborn children, yet all the while tending to his patients as a general practitioner. Legendary innovators like Franklin, Snow, and Darwin all possess some common intellectual qualities—a certain quickness of mind, unbounded curiosity—but they also share one other defining attribute.

Urbina, Ian. “Growing Pains for a Deep-Sea Home Built of Subway Cars.” New York Times, April 8, 2008. Valenstein, Elliot S. The War of the Soups and the Sparks: The Discovery of Neurotransmitters and the Dispute over How Nerves Communicate. New York: Columbia University Press, 2005. Vinten-Johansen, Peter, et al. Cholera, Chloroform, and the Science of Medicine: A Life of John Snow. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. Wagner, Ullrich, Steffen Gais, Hilde Haider, Rolf Verleger, and Jan Born. “Sleep Inspires Insight.” Nature 427, no. 6972 (2004): 352-55. Waldrop, Mitchell M. Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992. Weinbaum, Stanley Grauman. A Martian Odyssey, and Others. Reading, Pa.: Fantasy Press, 1949.

pages: 372 words: 111,573

10% Human: How Your Body's Microbes Hold the Key to Health and Happiness by Alanna Collen


Asperger Syndrome, Barry Marshall: ulcers, Berlin Wall, biofilm, clean water, correlation does not imply causation, David Strachan, discovery of penicillin, Drosophila, Fall of the Berlin Wall, friendly fire, germ theory of disease, hygiene hypothesis, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, illegal immigration, John Snow's cholera map, Louis Pasteur, Maui Hawaii, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, phenotype, placebo effect, the scientific method

Although the threat of infectious disease has all but gone, our immune systems are still under fire. But why? Let’s turn to the technique pioneered by Dr John Snow during Soho’s cholera outbreak of 1854: epidemiology. Since Snow first applied logic and evidence to unravelling the mystery of the source of cholera, epidemiology has become a mainstay of medical sleuthing. It couldn’t be simpler: we ask three questions: (1) Where are these diseases occurring? (2) Who are they affecting? and (3) When did they become a problem? The answers provide us with clues that can help us to answer the overall question: Why are twenty-first-century illnesses happening? The map of cholera cases that John Snow produced in answer to Where? gave away cholera’s likely epicentre – the Broad Street pump. Without much detective work, it’s clear to see that obesity, autism, allergies and autoimmunity all began in the Western world.

Each person could produce up to 20 litres per day, all of which was dumped in the cesspits beneath Soho’s cramped houses. The disease was cholera, and it killed people in their hundreds. Dr John Snow, a British doctor, was sceptical of the miasma theory, and had spent some years looking for an alternative explanation. From previous epidemics, he had begun to suspect that cholera was water-borne. The latest outbreak in Soho gave him the opportunity to test his theory. He interviewed Soho residents and mapped cholera cases and deaths, looking for a common source. Snow realised that the victims had all drunk from the same water pump on Broad Street (now Broadwick Street) at the heart of the outbreak. Even deaths further afield could be traced back to the Broad Street pump, as cholera was carried and passed on by those infected there. There was one anomaly: a group of monks in a Soho monastery who got their water from the same pump were completely unaffected.

It seems that without their calming influence, the handbrake is off and the immune system goes full speed ahead, attacking even the most innocuous of substances. Let me now tell you about cholera – the disease behind the litres of watery white diarrhoea that contaminated the water supply of Soho back in 1854, and which continues to cause outbreaks of misery in developing countries today. It’s caused by a nasty little bacterium called Vibrio cholerae which colonises the small intestine. But it never intends to stay for long. Where most infectious bacteria attempt to sneak past the immune system until they have fortified their ranks enough to resist attack and cause a persistent infection, V. cholerae flaunts its presence from the moment it arrives. In the first phase of its mission, V. cholerae attaches itself to the intestinal wall and reproduces as fast as it can. But rather than hang around and cause a permanent infection, this bacterium has other ideas.

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Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts About Alternative Medicine by Edzard Ernst, Simon Singh


Barry Marshall: ulcers, Berlin Wall, correlation does not imply causation, false memory syndrome, Florence Nightingale: pie chart, germ theory of disease, John Snow's cholera map, Louis Pasteur, meta analysis, meta-analysis, placebo effect, profit motive, publication bias, randomized controlled trial, Ronald Reagan, Simon Singh, The Design of Experiments, the scientific method

On the other hand, a nearby workhouse with its own well had no cases, and employees at the brewery on Broad Street had been unaffected because they drank their own produce. A key piece of evidence was the case of a woman who died of cholera, even though she lived far from Soho. Snow learned, however, that she had previously lived in Soho and had such a fondness for the sweet pump water that she had specially asked for some Broad Street water to be brought to her house. Based on all these observations, Snow persuaded town officials to take the handle off the pump, which halted the supply of contaminated water and brought an end to the cholera outbreak. Snow, arguably the world’s first epidemiologist, had demonstrated the power of the new scientific approach to medicine, and in 1866 Britain suffered its last cholera outbreak. Figure 4 John Snow’s map of cholera deaths in Soho, 1854. Each black oblong represents one death, and the Broad Street pump can be seen at the centre of the epidemic.

One of the most important medical breakthroughs took place during the previously mentioned 1854 London cholera epidemic. The disease had first hit Britain in 1831, when 23,000 people died; this was followed by the 1849 epidemic, which killed 53,000. During the 1849 epidemic the obstetrician Dr John Snow questioned the established theory that cholera was spread through the air by unknown poisonous vapours. He had been a pioneer of anaesthesia and had administered chloroform to Queen Victoria during the birth of Prince Leopold, so he knew exactly how gaseous poisons affected groups of people; if cholera was caused by a gas, then entire populations should be affected, but instead the disease seemed to be selective about its victims. Therefore, he posited the radical theory that cholera was caused by contact with contaminated water and sewage.

Picture Credits James Lind © Wellcome Library, London Florence Nightingale’s polar chart © Wellcome Library, London Model showing acupuncture needle entry points © Wellcome Library, London Patient receiving acupuncture © Tek Image/Science Photo Library Archie Cochrane © Cardiff University Library, Cochrane Archive, Llandough Hospital Samuel Hahnemann © Science Photo Library Oliver Wendell Holmes © Wellcome Library, London John Snow’s map of cholera deaths in Soho, 1854 © Royal Society of Medicine Cervical spine © Sheila Terry/Science Photo Library Daniel David Palmer © Science Photo Library Field thistle © Wellcome Library, London St John’s wort © June Hill Redigo/Custom medical stock photo/ Science Photo Library

pages: 227 words: 62,177

Numbers Rule Your World: The Hidden Influence of Probability and Statistics on Everything You Do by Kaiser Fung


American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Andrew Wiles, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, call centre, correlation does not imply causation, cross-subsidies, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, edge city, Emanuel Derman, facts on the ground, fixed income, Gary Taubes, John Snow's cholera map, moral hazard, p-value, pattern recognition, profit motive, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, statistical model, the scientific method, traveling salesman

The consequence of miscalculation was grave, the stakes high and getting higher. ~###~ A century and a half ago, a young English doctor found himself in a worse predicament when a string of cholera outbreaks killed tens of thousands between 1830 and 1850. In 1854, around London’s Broad Street (now Broadwick Street), 127 people succumbed to the disease in three days, and 500 died in the first ten days. At the time, the cause of cholera was popularly believed to be “miasma,” also known as foul air. In a series of inspired studies, Dr. John Snow demonstrated that cholera is spread by foul water, not foul air. By mapping sites of water pumps and homes of the deceased, he guessed correctly that the Broad Street pump was infected. Folklore had it that the outbreak halted as soon as the handle was taken off the pump.

More significantly, to measure the real impact of the recall would require knowing what would have happened had the recall not been instituted. That alternative world of no recall, unfortunately, could only exist in our imagination. So it was impossible, in practice, to prove DeWaal’s claim of many lives saved. The same kind of conundrum was recognized over a century ago by John Snow, who considered the possibility that “the [cholera] attacks had so far diminished before the use of the water was stopped that it was impossible to decide whether the well still contained the cholera poison in an active state or whether, from some cause, the water had become free from it.” Such inability to gauge the effect of public policy served to raise the stakes further, especially when it has costly side effects. If few lives could have been saved, then the final toll for this outbreak amounted to three deaths and about a hundred hospitalizations.

He conceived and sold the program as a form of “civil defense” against the threat of biological weapons during the Cold War. EIS officers have played leading roles in preventing and controlling diseases, including polio, lead poisoning, Legionnaires’ disease, and toxic shock syndrome. They proudly wear lapel pins of a shoe with a hole, symbolizing the sweat and toil involved in their surveillance activities. In Langmuir’s office hung the portraits of his three heroes: John Snow (of course), Sir Edwin Chadwick, and Charles Chapin. Chadwick, like Snow, was instrumental in jump-starting sanitation reform in England in the nineteenth century; he advocated the then-novel concept of using pipes to carry water into residences. Chapin, who served as the health officer of Providence, Rhode Island, for forty-eight years, earning the nickname “the dean of city health officers,” ignited the public-health movement in the United States in the 1880s, and he also championed the use of scientific principles.

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Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water by Peter H. Gleick


carbon footprint, clean water, commoditize, cuban missile crisis, John Snow's cholera map, place-making, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley

In 1848 the Lambeth Water Company, one of several private water companies supplying London, moved its water intake upstream on the Thames, above the worst of the sewage discharges, reducing illness in its service area. In a now legendary 1854 experiment, Dr. John Snow, a London physician, conducted a simple yet brilliant test that helped to settle the debate about the transmission of cholera. Snow drew a map of a virulent cholera outbreak in one of the poorest neighborhoods of London—an area served by central wells and no sewage collection. He plotted the homes and numbers of people affected and added the location of the wells that provided water for the hardest-hit neighborhoods. The maps he generated and the interviews he conducted with the families of victims convinced him that the source of contamination was the water from one particular well in Broad Street. He received permission from local authorities to remove the pump handle, which forced residents to go to other, uncontaminated wells for water.

You lose two wagon wheels and little Billy died of cholera.”). In California and the Pacific Northwest the contagion merged with more cholera brought down by fur traders from Russia through Alaska. President James Polk is reported to have contracted cholera while in New Orleans in 1849, and died of the disease just a few months after leaving office.11 In 1853 and 1854, another massive wave of cholera swept back through Europe and America. Russia was reportedly devastated by a million cholera deaths, and once again thousands died in London. Yet leading doctors and scientists couldn’t agree on how people were getting ill or how best to prevent the transmission of most diseases. The sciences of bacteriology, epidemiology, and immunology were still rudimentary. The prevalent theory of the time was that cholera was transmitted through the air as a contagious mist or miasma.

Between 1831 and 1833 a massive wave of Asiatic cholera swept over Britain from Scotland to London, claiming over 50,000 lives.10 In 1832, cholera reached New York and killed more than 3,500 people in a city with a population of only 250,000—as if over 100,000 died today. In the 1840s, the disease again surged back and forth across the continents, killing thousands at a time. In 1846, 15,000 people died in and around Mecca from the disease. Cholera reached Moscow in 1847 and then exploded again throughout Europe. In 1849, tens of thousands more died in London, Paris, and other European cities. Ships carried the disease across the Atlantic to the New World via the ports of New York and New Orleans. Five thousand more died in New York as did several thousand in New Orleans. Cholera then traveled up the Mississippi River valley, spreading by boat to villages and towns.

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The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality by Angus Deaton


Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Branko Milanovic, BRICs, British Empire, call centre, clean water, colonial exploitation, Columbian Exchange, creative destruction, declining real wages, Downton Abbey, end world poverty, financial innovation, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, illegal immigration, income inequality, invention of agriculture, invisible hand, John Snow's cholera map, knowledge economy, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, new economy, purchasing power parity, randomized controlled trial, rent-seeking, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, Simon Kuznets, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, structural adjustment programs, The Spirit Level, too big to fail, trade route, very high income, War on Poverty

But the theory led to too much emphasis on sanitation and not enough on water supplies, so that, at one point, the health authorities in London were emptying the stinking cesspools in basements into the Thames, thus recycling cholera into the water supply. A few years later, in London’s cholera epidemic of 1854, one of the two water companies supplying the city with drinking water from the Thames had its inlets downstream of the sewage discharges, recycling cholera bacteria from one generation of victims to the next. Indeed, the fact that the other major company had recently moved its inlet to purer water upriver enabled John Snow, then a physician in London, to map the cholera deaths and match them to the offending water company, and thus to demonstrate that cholera was spread through contaminated drinking water.28 This was one of the first “natural experiments” in public health, and it gets my vote as one of the most important of all time.

A look at the modern history of mortality,” European Review of Economic History 3: 257–94. 25. Livi-Bacci, Population and nutrition. 26. Samuel J. Preston, 1996, “American longevity: Past, present, and future,” Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University, Paper 36, 27. George Rosen, 1991, A history of public health, Johns Hopkins University Press. 28. John Snow, 1855, On the mode of transmission of cholera, London, John Churchill. See also Steven Johnson, 2007, The ghost map: The story of London’s most terrifying epidemic and how it changed science, cities, and the modern world, Riverhead. 29. David A. Freedman, 1991, “Statistical analysis and shoe leather,” Sociological Methodology 21: 291–313. 30. Nancy Tomes, 1999, The gospel of germs: Men, women and the microbe in American life, Harvard University Press. 31.

Yet Snow recognized that the experiment was hardly decisive—for example, it might have been that one water company might have served only well-to-do patrons, who were protected for other reasons—and went to great pains to rule out other potential explanations for his results.29 Snow’s findings, together with the later work of Robert Koch in Germany and Louis Pasteur in France, helped establish the germ theory of disease, albeit with much resistance from holdout believers in miasma theory. One sticking point was why some people exposed to the disease did not become sick—a serious challenge to causality and understanding.30 Indeed, Koch, who had isolated Vibrio cholerae in 1883, proposed four “postulates,” all of which had to be satisfied if a microbe were to be safely identified as the cause of a disease. One was that, if the microorganism were introduced into a healthy person, the disease should follow. This gap in the theory was spectacularly demonstrated in 1892 when a prominent disbeliever and miasmatist, Max von Pettenkofer, then aged 74, publicly drank a flask of cholera bacteria, specially sent by Koch from Egypt, and suffered only mild negative after-effects. Exactly why he should have escaped is unclear—it was not stomach acidity, which he had neutralized—but many disease agents work only under suitable conditions, and von Pettenkofer had a theory of this kind, that the microorganism must first be converted to a miasma by putrefying in soil.

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Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier by Edward L. Glaeser


affirmative action, Andrei Shleifer, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Broken windows theory, carbon footprint, Celebration, Florida, clean water, congestion charging, declining real wages, desegregation, diversified portfolio, Edward Glaeser, endowment effect, European colonialism, financial innovation, Frank Gehry, global village, Guggenheim Bilbao, haute cuisine, Home mortgage interest deduction, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, job-hopping, John Snow's cholera map, Mahatma Gandhi, McMansion, megacity, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, New Urbanism, place-making, Ponzi scheme, Potemkin village, Ralph Waldo Emerson, rent control, RFID, Richard Florida, Rosa Parks, school vouchers, Seaside, Florida, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, Steven Pinker, strikebreaker, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the new new thing, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, Works Progress Administration, young professional

Plague vanished from Europe (though not from Asia) in the early eighteenth century, but yellow fever invaded, and cholera began devastating Western cities by 1830. While earlier public health actions against disease were mostly limited to quarantine, increasingly sophisticated urbanites like John Snow were acquiring the knowledge needed to battle the spread of pestilence. Snow was a coal worker’s son from York who was apprenticed at the age of fourteen to the doctor of railroad pioneer George Stephenson. Nine years later, Snow walked two hundred miles alone to London to get the skills he needed to become a surgeon. Two years later, he received his license and became a successful doctor and medical researcher, one who learned much from the city around him. His greatest success came from observing the pattern of cholera deaths in the outbreak of 1854. London was Snow’s laboratory, and with the help of a local clergyman, he interviewed residents and produced a remarkable map of the cholera outbreak.

., “Hellenic Holocaust.” 97 Plague came to Constantinople: Russell, “That Earlier Plague.” 97 three centuries after 1350: McNeill, Plagues and Peoples, 160-72. 97 death rates were much higher in urban areas: Wrigley and Schofield, Population History, 472. 98 Plague vanished from Europe: McNeill, Plagues and Peoples, 171-72. 98 yellow fever invaded, and cholera: Ibid., 271-75, 280. 98 Nine years later, Snow walked: Steven Johnson, Ghost Map, 60. 98 map of the cholera outbreak: Ibid., 172-73. 98 a particular water pump: Ibid., 193. 98 “the above-mentioned pump well”: Brody et al., “Map-Making,” 65. 99 Philadelphia ... went the public route: Warner, Private City, 103. 99 New York followed a private path: Reubens, “Burr, Hamilton,” 592. 99 cautioned against the “burthensome” taxes: Reubens, “Burr, Hamilton.” 99 The charter’s key provisions: Ibid., 599. 99 “monied transactions not inconsistent”: Ibid., 600. 100 lose more than a half percent: New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Summary of Vital Statistics 2008, Jan. 2010, cover. 100 Croton Aqueduct ... had an impact: Jervis, Description of the Croton Aqueduct. 100 remarkable sixty-year decline: In 1832, New York City had 50 deaths per 1,000, a rate of 5 percent.

London was Snow’s laboratory, and with the help of a local clergyman, he interviewed residents and produced a remarkable map of the cholera outbreak. Street by street, case by case, the map showed the geography of the disease. By examining the layout of the affliction, Snow saw that a particular water pump lay at the epicenter of the outbreak. His interviews led him to conclude “there has been no particular outbreak or prevalence of cholera in this part of London except among the persons who were in the habit of drinking the water of the above-mentioned pump well.” Nearby ale imbibers remained healthy; alcohol’s ability to kill waterborne bacteria had long helped city dwellers avoid illness. The well appears to have been polluted by a nearby cesspit that contained infected feces. When Snow got the pump’s handle removed, the outbreak subsided.

pages: 683 words: 203,624

The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens' London by Judith Flanders


anti-work, centre right, Corn Laws, John Snow's cholera map, Ralph Waldo Emerson, traveling salesman, urban sprawl, working poor

As late as the second epidemic a decade later, the Warrior, theoretically a hospital ship, had no regular supply of clean linen; the majority of prisoners were verminous and on average were given a change of clothes only every five weeks; no one could say when the bedding had last been washed; there were no towels or combs, and not enough sheets; the privies were ‘imperfect and neglected’, and the smell ‘almost insupportable’. Of the 638 convicts on board, 400 were stricken with cholera. Little more care was accorded the convicts after death. Their chaplain refused to conduct a funeral service until the dead numbered at least half a dozen, and even then he declined to accompany the bodies on their last journey, reading the burial service to himself on board and signalling to the burial party onshore when he reached ‘dust to dust’ by dropping his handkerchief. The 1854–5 outbreak was the one in which John Snow, a Soho doctor, famously disabled the Broad Street pump and in so doing stopped the spread of cholera in that district. (Broad Street has become Broadwick Street, and a pub, the John Snow, marks the location of the pump.) This was not a sudden insight. During the previous epidemic, in 1849, Snow had already indicated the disease might be water-borne.

As these roads were renamed, a wholesale renumbering of the buildings also took place. London was, to many, a great map that mapped out the impossibility of mapping. There had been many maps of the city, but it was only at this time of renaming that the first official map of London was produced. That was precipitated not by the Metropolitan Board of Works’ desire for regimentation, but by a cholera epidemic. In 1848, the need to improve the sanitation of London was no longer a matter for debate (for more on sanitation, see pp. 194–6; on cholera, pp. 216–8), but the most basic element, the knowledge of the locations of the sewers, was entirely lacking, and so the army was called in to map out all the city streets for planning purposes. Today the ‘ordnance’ in the Ordnance Survey maps has become detached from its meaning, but it was the army’s ordnance division, the sappers and miners of the engineering corps, who covered Westminster Abbey with scaffolding, from which they surveyed London in a radius of twelve miles around St Paul’s, at twelve inches to the mile.

These were cases of general fevers, but in 1831 a new terror had appeared: cholera. The medical community had been warning of its coming for more than a decade, after an outbreak of ‘Asiatic cholera’ in Lower Bengal in 1817. But it was another six years before it reached Europe, when 144 deaths were recorded in Astrakhan. In 1829, in Russia, 1,000 died before the disease again resurfaced in Astrakhan, and this time 25,000 may have died. By 1831, the disease had spread to the Baltic ports, and then it was only months before it reached Britain via the shipping routes: in October, the first British death from cholera was recorded in Sunderland. A medical officer who had worked in India recognized the symptoms and warned the authorities, but the local doctors refused to accept the fact, recording the death as ‘English cholera’.72 Another 201 deaths did little to change their minds or to prepare the rest of the country.

pages: 262 words: 66,800

Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future by Johan Norberg


agricultural Revolution, anti-communist, availability heuristic, Bartolomé de las Casas, Berlin Wall, British Empire, business climate, clean water, continuation of politics by other means, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, demographic transition, desegregation, Donald Trump, Flynn Effect, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, Gunnar Myrdal, Haber-Bosch Process, Hans Island, Hans Rosling, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, John Snow's cholera map, Kibera, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, more computing power than Apollo, moveable type in China, Naomi Klein, open economy, place-making, Rosa Parks, sexual politics, special economic zone, Steven Pinker, telerobotics, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transatlantic slave trade, very high income, working poor, Xiaogang Anhui farmers, zero-sum game

London’s early sewage systems ended the practice of keeping cesspools in basements, but they did so by dumping raw sewage into the River Thames, also the source of the city’s drinking water. In this way, cholera was recycled into the water supply. Two outbreaks of cholera in London between 1848 and 1854 killed 25,000 people. This tragedy made one of the world’s great medical experiments possible, ‘one of the most important of all time’, according to Angus Deaton.9 John Snow, a physician in London, thought that cholera was borne by water rather than foul air. He mapped the deaths in detail and found a revealing link. All the cholera cases seemed to originate from the water company that had its inlet downstream of the sewage discharge, whereas no deaths were found among those who got their water from the other company, which had recently moved its inlet to purer water upriver.

As far back as the Ancient Greeks, people realized that wounds treated with wine were less likely to become infected than those treated with water. Typhoid was spread by eating food or drinking water contaminated with the faeces of an infected person, and this illness alone killed about a quarter of all patients. It may have been the disease that killed every third Athenian in 430 bce and ended its golden period. More recently, typhoid killed Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, at the age of forty-two. Cholera spread from the Indian subcontinent and water contaminated with the bacterium has killed tens of millions since the early nineteenth century. Safe water is essential not just for drinking, but also for daily personal and domestic hygiene and food preparation. Most of the illness in the world is still caused by waterborne diseases, and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that at any given time almost half the population in low- and middle-income countries are suffering from diseases related to inadequate provision of safe water and sanitation services.

In classical civilizations such as Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire, life expectancy has been estimated at around eighteen to twenty-five years. In medieval Britain, estimates range from seventeen to thirty-five years.7 The early era of globalization resulted in terrible epidemics, since populations which had earlier been separated now exchanged contagious germs. Europeans introduced smallpox to the Americas, and got syphilis in return. Plague came with the Mongol conquests and cholera spread on merchant routes from India, killing tens of millions from the early nineteenth century. Before the late nineteenth century, even those in the most advanced nations did not experience mortality much lower than was typical during most of our species’ history. In the 1830s, life expectancy in western Europe was thirty-three years and it improved only slowly. Before the year 1800, not a single country in the world had a life expectancy higher than forty years.

pages: 1,088 words: 297,362

The London Compendium by Ed Glinert


1960s counterculture, anti-communist, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bob Geldof, British Empire, Brixton riot, Corn Laws, Dava Sobel, double entry bookkeeping, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Exxon Valdez, hiring and firing, invention of the telegraph, Isaac Newton, John Harrison: Longitude, John Snow's cholera map, Khartoum Gordon, Mahatma Gandhi, mass immigration, Nick Leeson, price stability, Ronald Reagan, Sloane Ranger, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, spice trade, the market place, trade route, union organizing, V2 rocket

But Spot’s standing was never as high as Hill’s, especially after a bullion raid at London Airport he organized went awry, and in 1956 he was badly beaten up outside his flat by Hill’s gang, which included a young Frankie Fraser, who was sentenced to seven years for the offence. In the 1960s the Kray twins ran a number of local clubs and in recent decades Soho’s main criminal gangs have been the Chinese Triads. John Snow and the 1854 cholera epidemic When cholera, which had killed some 10,000 people in various parts of London in 1853, hit Soho the following year John Snow, a local surgeon, announced that the disease was spread through dirty water but had his findings rubbished, particularly by local water companies who claimed it was caused by a ‘miasma in the atmosphere’. When 127 local people died of cholera early in September 1854 Snow began more research and after interviewing the families of those who had died found out that all the victims had drunk from a well on Broad Street (Broadwick Street). He took samples of the water, discovered that it contained infectious particles, and went to the guardians of the local parish, urging them to remove the pump handle.

Favourite London restaurant of wealthy socialists. Groucho Club, 45 Dean Street. Soho’s most celebrated media club, patronized by Julie Burchill, Ben Elton, Damien Hirst and Salman Rushdie. Intrepid Fox, 99 Wardour Street. A haunt of bikers and heavy metal fans and named after the great eighteenth-century Whig politician Charles James Fox. The John Snow, 39 Broadwick Street. A pub built on the site of the surgery where John Snow discovered the source of Soho’s 1854 cholera epidemic. Kettner’s, 29 Romilly Street. A former French restaurant frequented by Oscar Wilde and Edward VII, now owned by Pizza Express. King of Corsica, 90 Berwick Street. A pub named in honour of the Frenchman Theodore Neuhoff, who was invited to become King of the island of Corsica and died in Soho in 1756. Leoni’s Quo Vadis,26–29 Dean Street.

When Winston Churchill at the outset of the Second World War ordered that Soho’s Italians be rounded up for internment or deportation, a group of local women marched along Broadwick Street heading for the Italian shops of Old Compton Street, ready to carry out the prime minister’s injunction themselves, but were thwarted by a Rose Blau, who pleaded with them to reconsider, explaining that Soho’s Italians were mostly English-born and did not support Mussolini. The march broke up. The John Snow, No. 39, south side The 1870s pub, originally the Newcastle-upon-Tyne, was built on the site of the surgery run by John Snow, one of the first surgeons to use anaesthetics, who gave Queen Victoria chloroform for the birth of Prince Leopold in 1853 and made startling discoveries concerning the 1850s cholera epidemic. Carnaby Street The centre of British fashion in the 1960s but now selling mainly tourist tat, Carnaby Street was built in the 1680s and named after the local seventeenth-century mansion, Karnaby House. In the late eighteenth century Carnaby Street was home to an abbatoir run by female butchers, as the artist William Blake depicted in the plates he produced for Jerusalem, which shows three women removing the entrails of a fallen man.

pages: 337 words: 86,320

Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

affirmative action, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Asian financial crisis, Bernie Sanders, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, Cass Sunstein, computer vision, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, desegregation, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, Filter Bubble, game design, happiness index / gross national happiness, income inequality, Jeff Bezos, John Snow's cholera map, Mark Zuckerberg, Nate Silver, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, price discrimination, quantitative hedge fund, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, TaskRabbit, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, working poor

There were 6.5 times more searches in the category suicide. 6.5*6.6/12 » 3.5. 268 12 murders of Muslims reported as hate crimes: Bridge Initiative Team, “When Islamophobia Turns Violent: The 2016 U.S. Presidential Election,” May 2, 2016, available at CONCLUSION 272 What motivated Popper’s crusade?: Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1963). 275 mapped every cholera case in the city: Simon Rogers, “John Snow’s Data Journalism: The Cholera Map That Changed the World,” Guardian, March 15, 2013. 276 Benjamin F. Jones: I interviewed Benjamin Jones by phone on June 1, 2015. This work is also discussed in Aaron Chatterji and Benjamin Jones, “Harnessing Technology to Improve K–12 Education,” Hamilton Project Discussion Paper, 2012. 283 people tend not to finish treatises by economists: Jordan Ellenberg, “The Summer’s Most Unread Book Is . . . ,” Wall Street Journal, July 3, 2014.

For every idea I have talked about in this book, there are a hundred ideas just as important ready to be tackled. The research discussed here is the tip of the tip of the iceberg, a scratch on the scratch of the surface. So what else is coming? For one, a radical expansion of the methodology that was used in one of the most successful public health studies of all time. In the mid-nineteenth century, John Snow, a British physician, was interested in what was causing a cholera outbreak in London. His ingenious idea: he mapped every cholera case in the city. When he did this, he found the disease was largely clustered around one particular water pump. This suggested the disease spread through germ-infested water, disproving the then-conventional idea that it spread through bad air. Big Data—and the zooming in that it allows—makes this type of study easy. For any disease, we can explore Google search data or other digital health data.

Keith, 235 Chetty, Raj, 172–73, 174–75, 176, 177, 178–80, 185, 273 children abuse of, 145–47, 149–50, 161 and benefits of digital truth serum, 161 and child pornography, 121 decisions about having, 111–12 height and weight data about, 204–5 of immigrants, 184–85 and income distribution, 176 and influence of childhood experiences, 165–71, 165–66n, 206 intelligence of, 135 and origins of notable Americans, 184–85 parent prejudices against, 134–36, 135n physical appearance of, 135–36 See also parents/parenting; teenagers cholera, Snow study about, 275 Christians, and truth about hate and prejudice, 129 Churchill, Winston, 169 cigarette economy, Philippines, 102 cities and danger of empowered government, 267, 268–69 predicting behavior of, 268–69 zooming in on, 172–90, 239–40 Civil War, 79 Clemens, Jeffrey, 230 Clinton, Bill, searches for, 60–62 Clinton, Hillary. See elections, 2016 A Clockwork Orange (movie), 190–91, 143, 145 Cohen, Leonard, 82n college and causality, 237–39 and examples of Big Data searches, 22 college towns, and origins of notable Americans, 182–83, 184, 186 Colors (movie), 191 Columbia University, Microsoft pancreatic cancer study and, 28–29, 30 comparison shopping, 265 conclusions benefits of great, 281–84 to books, 271–72, 279, 280–84 characteristics of best, 272, 274–79 importance of, 283 as pointing way to more things to come, 274–79 purpose of, 279–80 Stephens-Davidowitz’s writing of, 271–72, 281–84 condoms, 5, 122 Congressional Record, and Gentzkow-Shapiro research, 93 conservatives and origins of political preferences, 169–71 and parents prejudice against children, 136 and truth about the internet, 140, 141–44, 145 and words as data, 75–76, 93, 95–96 consumers.

pages: 692 words: 167,950

The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Fresh Water in the Twenty-First Century by Alex Prud'Homme


2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, big-box store, bilateral investment treaty, carbon footprint, Chance favours the prepared mind, clean water, commoditize, corporate raider, Deep Water Horizon,, Exxon Valdez, hydraulic fracturing, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, John Snow's cholera map, Louis Pasteur, mass immigration, megacity, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, renewable energy credits, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, urban sprawl, William Langewiesche

Seventy deaths occurred in twenty-four hours, most within five square blocks, while hundreds more—entire families, often—were infected by the mysterious disease. Known as cholera, the illness had been feared in Britain since devastating outbreaks in the 1830s and 1840s, one of which killed almost seventy-five hundred Londoners within two years. But no one knew how cholera was transmitted. Most experts suspected it was airborne, passing from one person to another by coughing or breathing. John Snow, a private doctor, had a novel theory: he believed that cholera was transmitted by contaminated drinking water. He studied water samples under a microscope and plotted the patterns of cholera death on a map. His “Ghost Map” showed the disease radiating from an epicenter at the Broad Street pump, which drew from a well beneath Golden Square. Authorities shut down the pump, and within days the cholera epidemic disappeared. In pinpointing the locus of the outbreak, Snow had pioneered the science of epidemiology.

Shortly after Snow created his Ghost Map, an Italian researcher named Filippo Pacini identified the cholera bacteria itself, Vibrio cholerae, which circulates from one person’s feces to another person’s stomach, and back again. Although he published his findings, Pacini’s work was ignored until 1884. From that point on, the elimination of human and animal waste from water supplies was one of the central goals of water treatment around the world, and one of the most important efforts in the history of public health. Yet today, much of our freshwater is mixed with treated sewage; some of it is used for irrigation, and some of it we drink. THE WATER FACTORY A deeply embedded human trait is to be revolted by the idea of drinking sewage, and there are sound reasons for this. As John Snow discovered nearly two centuries ago, wastewater contains many contaminants that can lead to serious illness.

As cities rose, engineers became obsessed with building efficient waterworks to supply them. Chicago, for example, was established on the shore of Lake Michigan and grew rapidly, but contaminated water collected beneath its streets, while the city’s effluent was dumped into the lake, which was also its drinking supply. Typhoid fever and dysentery broke out, and in 1854 a cholera epidemic wiped out 6 percent of the city’s population. (Cholera is a bacterial disease caused by feces in water.) The crisis forced a major overhaul. Municipal leaders installed water pumps, built a new sewer system, and reversed the flow of the Chicago River to carry waste out of Lake Michigan, and the city was much healthier for it. By 1920, most American cities had efficient water systems, and by 1940 outbreaks of naturally occurring waterborne diseases had sharply fallen.

pages: 655 words: 151,111

London: The Autobiography by Jon E. Lewis


affirmative action, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Brixton riot, John Snow's cholera map, side project, strikebreaker, Winter of Discontent

Furious contests have taken place about the burials, it having been recommended that bodies should be burned directly after death, and the most violent prejudice opposing itself to this recommendation; in short, there is no end to the scenes of uproar, violence, and brutal ignorance that have gone on, and this on the part of the lower orders, for whose especial benefit all the precautions are taken, and for whose relief large sums have been raised and all the resources of charity called into activity in every part of the town. It was not understood at the time that the cholera outbreak was caused by polluted water. This vital scientific breakthrough was made in 1854 by Dr John Snow, who noticed that those who drank from the pump in Broad Street died, while those who worked in the nearby brewery, and drank beer instead of water, did not. By then cholera had taken the lives of 30,000 Londoners. The Opening of the London to Deptford Railway, 14 December 1837 John O’London London’s first railway was mounted on a twin-track viaduct. THE DIRECTORS HAVING arrived at the London terminus were shown to their seats by ushers in waiting, and the band of music having taken up its positions on the roof of the carriage, the official bugler blew the signal for the start, and the train steamed off amidst the firing of cannon, the ringing of church bells, and the cheers of an excited crowd.

At the time of William’s passing, the population of London was about 1.5 million, making it the largest city on the planet. Tenements in slum districts known, in the vernacular of the time, as ‘rookeries’ teemed with people. Disease ran rife. Diphtheria, measles, smallpox and typhus were constant killers. Another contagion arrived in 1831 – another bacillus that ensured that the life expectancy of poor Londoners did not linger beyond 27 years. King Cholera, 1832 Charles Greville 17 FEBRUARY 1832 THE CHOLERA HAS produced more alertness than alarm here; in fact, at present it is a mere trifle – in three days twenty-eight persons. Nothing like the disorders which rage unheeded every year and every day among the lower orders. It is its name, its suddenness, and its frightful symptoms that terrify. The investigations, however, into the condition of the different parishes have brought to light dreadful cases of poverty and misery.

A copy of the British Library Cataloguing in Publication data is available from the British Library UK ISBN: 978-1-84529-942-2 eISBN: 978-1-78033-750-0 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2 First published in the United States in 2009 by Running Press Book Publishers All rights reserved under the Pan-American and International Copyright Conventions No part of this work may be produced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Digit on the right indicates the number of this printing US Library of Congress Control Number: 2009920964 US ISBN: 978-0-7624-3734-4 Running Press Book Publishers 2300 Chestnut Street Philadelphia, PA 19103-4371 Printed and bound in the EU For Penny, a London girl Contents List of Illustrations Foreword Boudicca Sacks Londinium, AD 60 TACITUS The Romans in London: Graffiti VARIOUS Londoners Reject Christianity, 616 THE VENERABLE BEDE Viking Raids, 842–1009 THE ANGLO-SAXON CHRONICLE London Bridge is Pulled Down by King Olaf, c. 1014 SNORRI STURLUSON Edward the Confessor Builds Westminster Abbey, 1060–5 A MONK OF ST BERTIN’S ABBEY The Coronation of William the Conqueror, Christmas Day, 1066 ORDERIC VITALIS The Charter of Henry I in Favour of the Citizens of London, Michaelmas 1130–August 1133 HENRY I A Description of the City of London, c. 1173 WILLIAM FITZ STEPHEN Building Regulations, 1189 THE LONDON ASSIZES Tax Riot, 1194 ROGER OF WENDOVER The Thames Floods, 1241 MATTHEW PARIS Misadventures in Childhood, 1301–37 CALENDAR OF THE CORONERS’ ROLLS Street Life, 1301–80 VARIOUS Trick of the Trade: A Fraudulent Baker, 1327 THE CITY OF LONDON LETTER-BOOK The Ordinances of the Spurriers, 1346 ANONYMOUS City of the Dead: The Black Death, 1348 ROBERT OF AVESBURY Flagellants, Michaelmas 1349 ROBERT OF AVESBURY Expulsion of a Leper, 1372 THE CITY OF LONDON LETTER-BOOK An Inventory of the Goods in a Fishmonger’s City House, 1373 CALENDAR OF PLEA AND MEMORANDA ROLLS The Peasants’ Revolt Comes to London, 1381 SIR JOHN FROISSART Richard II Quarrels with the City of London, 1392 THE MONK OF WESTMINSTER London Lickpenny, c. 1410 ANONYMOUS Henry V’s Victory March After Agincourt, 23 November 1415 ANONYMOUS Richard Whittington is Elected Mayor for the Third Time, 13 October 1419 THE CITY OF LONDON LETTER-BOOK Public Nuisances, 1422 THE GENERAL COURT OF THE MAYOR OF THE CITY OF LONDON Wars of the Roses: The Beginning of Strife, 1454 JOHN STODELY The Dignity of the Mayor of London, 1464 ANONYMOUS The Joust Between Lord Scales and the Bastard of Burgoyne, 1467 EDWARD HALL The Sweating Sickness, 1485 EDWARD HALL Tudor London: A Portrait, 1497 ANDREAS FRANCISCUS Evil May Day, 1 May 1517 THE CHRONICLE OF THE GREY FRIARS The Beheading of Sir Thomas More, 1535 WILLIAM ROPER Protestant Revolution: Edward VI Suppresses Popery in London, 1547 THE CHRONICLE OF THE GREY FRIARS Queen Mary Seizes the Crown, 1553 HENRY MACHYN Mary Persecutes the Protestants: The Burning of Bradford and Leaf at Smithfield, 1555 JOHN FOXE Elizabethan London: City Life, 1564–99 VARIOUS Elizabethan London: The Oath of Every Freeman, 1580 ANONYMOUS Riots, Puritans and Shakespeare: Theatre-going, 1584–1613 WILLIAM FLEETWOOD, THE LORD MAYOR AND ALDERMEN, AND THOMAS PLATTER Queen Elizabeth at Greenwich, c. 1596 PAUL HENTZNER The Torturing of a Jesuit Priest in the Tower of London, April 1597 FATHER JOHN GERARD The Diary of a Tourist, 5 July 1598 BARON WALDSTEIN The Gunpowder Plot, 5 November 1605 SIR EDWARD HOBY The Attempted Arrest of the Five Members, 4 January 1642 JOHN RUSHWORTH The Battle of Newbury: Sergeant Henry Foster in Action, 20 September 1643 SERGEANT HENRY FOSTER, RED REGIMENT OF THE TRAINED BANDS OF THE CITY OF LONDON The Execution of Charles I, 30 January 1649 PHILIP HENRY Ranters, 1651 JOHN TAYLOR A Whale in the Thames, 3 June 1658 JOHN EVELYN The Restoration: The Arrival of Charles II in London, 29 May 1660 ANONYMOUS Notices for a Lost Dog, 21–8 June 1660 CHARLES II Journal of the Plague Year, 1665 SAMUEL PEPYS The Great Fire, 2–7 September 1666 JOHN EVELYN The Dutch in the Thames, June 1667 JOHN EVELYN A Visit to a Gaming House, 1 January 1668 SAMUEL PEPYS Highway Robbery, 11 May 1674 JOHN VERNEY London Arisen from the Ashes: Wren Rebuilds St Paul’s Cathedral, 1675–1710 DANIEL DEFOE The Great Frost, 1683–4 JOHN EVELYN Cockfighting, 18 June 1710 ZACHARIAS VON UFFENBACH Making Hay in Chelsea, 19 May 1711 JONATHAN SWIFT The Mohock Club, March 1712 LADY STRAFFORD Handel’s Water Music, 17 July 1717 DAILY COURANT Coffee-houses, c. 1722–5 JOHN MACKY AND CÉSAR DE SAUSSURE John Wesley Stoned, 12 September 1742 JOHN WESLEY A Hanging at Tyburn, c. 1745 SAMUEL RICHARDSON Earthquake, 11 March 1750 HORACE WALPOLE Gin Lane, 1751 WILLIAM HOGARTH Man About Town: A Rake’s Progress, 25 November 1762–4 June 1763 JAMES BOSWELL Wilkes and the Mob, 1768 HORACE WALPOLE The Lord Mayor’s Banquet, 1768 WILLIAM HICKEY The Gordon Riots, 6 June 1780 IGNATIUS SANCHO Ranelagh Pleasure Gardens, 12 June 1782 KARL PHILIPP MORITZ London Hospitals, 1788 JOHN HOWARD ‘The Rage for Building’: The Growth of London, 8 June 1791 HORACE WALPOLE London: A Georgian Poet’s View, 1794 WILLIAM BLAKE Mr Whitbread’s Brewery, c. 1800 JOHANNA SCHOPENHAUER Shooting Under London Bridge in a Boat, 12 July 1810 LOUIS SIMOND The Season: Jane Austen’s Party, April 1811 JANE AUSTEN Death of a Climbing Boy, 29 March 1813 THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE ON CLIMBING BOYS Mrs Fry at Newgate, March 1822 MARIA EDGEWORTH ‘Peelers’: The Formation of the Metropolitan Police, October 1829 SIR ROBERT PEEL William IV Rambles the Streets, 19 July 1830 CHARLE S GREVILLE King Cholera, 1832 CHARLES GREVILLE The Opening of the London to Deptford Railway, 14 December 1837 JOHN O’LONDON Queen Victoria at Her Coronation, 28 June 1838 QUEEN VICTORIA The Condition of the Working Class in London, c. 1844 FRIEDRICH ENGELS Chartist Demonstration, 10 April 1848 LORD JOHN RUSSELL Victorian London: Street Life, c. 1850 HENRY MAYHEW A Visit to the Great Exhibition, 7 June 1851 CHARLOTTE BRONTE High Society: A Fancy-dress Ball at Buckingham Palace, 1851 ANNE THACKERAY RITCHIE Karl Marx at Home, 1852 KARL MARX Some London Wonders: Gaslights, Penny Gaffs and Omnibuses, 1853 MAX SCHLESINGER Fog, 1853 CHARLES DICKENS The Great Stink, Summer 1858 CHARLES DICKENS AND GEORGE GODWIN Nine a.m.: Clerks on Their Way to Work, 1858 GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA White Slavery: Maids and Match Girls, 1860–83 HANNAH CULLWICK AND JAMES GREENWOOD A Day at the Races: The Derby, Epsom, 28 May 1861 HIPPOLYTE TAINE Tothill Fields, 1861 HENRY MAYHEW AND JOHN BINNY Prostitutes on the Haymarket, 1862 FYODOR DOSTOEVSKY Into Hades: The Metropolitan Underground Railway Commences Service, 9 January 1863 THE TIMES Murder on the North London Railway, July 1864 ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS The Founding of the International Working Men’s Association, Covent Garden, 28 September 1865 KARL MARX William Morris at Home, 10 March 1869 HENRY JAMES A Socialist March Through the West End, Autumn 1886 H.M.

pages: 342 words: 88,736

The Big Ratchet: How Humanity Thrives in the Face of Natural Crisis by Ruth Defries


agricultural Revolution, Columbian Exchange, demographic transition, double helix, European colonialism, food miles, Francisco Pizarro, Haber-Bosch Process, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet Archive, John Snow's cholera map, out of africa, planetary scale, premature optimization, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade

One can only imagine the filth, stench, and squalor of Charles Dickens’s legendary London. The streets, as he described them in his novel Oliver Twist, were “very narrow and muddy, and the air . . . impregnated with filthy odors.” Despite the city’s stinking, horrid state, politicians gave little priority to the reeking cesspools of London. In 1854, cholera hit the city in the third major outbreak of the nineteenth century. About 1,000 people died every week during the outbreak, some 14,000 in all. At first people thought the foul air was behind the outbreaks. But the visionary London physician Dr. John Snow famously pinpointed the true source of these outbreaks when he traced one of them to a single public water pump on Broad Street. Yet even after he nailed the idea that the disease was coming from water contaminated with human waste, not the fetid air, the local government still dilly-dallied on cleaning up the stinking mess.

The highly developed agriculture still could not save the ancient Chinese from the scourges of disease, drought, and famine. One province or another suffered from famine nearly every year. Untold millions died of starvation. Human excrement that fertilized the fields carried diseases, such as schistosomiasis, known as snail fever for the parasitic worms that hatched in snails, crawled under the skin of a barefoot farmer, laid eggs, and infected the unfortunate victim. Cholera epidemics from water contaminated with human and animal waste swept through the population. With dense populations and land and nutrients too scarce to spend on raising animals for slaughter, meat was a rarity in the Chinese diet. As a result, Chinese society circumvented the energy conundrum that compounds when people use animals for meat. With so many calories lost in the transfer up the food chain, the energy cost of meat in the diet is immense, though the gain in protein might be worth the cost.

When the project to construct London’s underground sewers was finally finished in 1865, London joined the great Indus Valley civilization and the Greeks and Romans in taking care of this noxious health hazard—all of them had devised water and sewage disposal systems many centuries earlier. London’s system discharged waste into the Thames, where the river’s flow and the tides could wash it out to sea. Sewer systems such as London’s have saved millions, if not billions, of people from cholera, typhoid, dysentery, and other diseases caused by water contaminated with human and animal waste. Lack of sanitation tragically still deprives too many throughout the developing world of a chance at a healthy life. No one would argue that humanity should go back to the days of cesspits and night-soil. But flush toilets and sewers brought their downsides. They shunt away human waste, removing it from the otherwise closed loops of the nitrogen and phosphorus cycles.

pages: 1,205 words: 308,891

Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World by Deirdre N. McCloskey


Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, BRICs, British Empire, butterfly effect, Carmen Reinhart, clockwork universe, computer age, Corn Laws, creative destruction, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Donald Trump, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, endogenous growth, European colonialism, experimental economics, financial innovation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, George Akerlof, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, greed is good, Howard Zinn, income per capita, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of air conditioning, invention of writing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John Snow's cholera map, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, long peace, means of production, Naomi Klein, New Economic Geography, New Urbanism, Paul Samuelson, purchasing power parity, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, sceptred isle, Scientific racism, Scramble for Africa, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Simon Kuznets, Slavoj Žižek, spinning jenny, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, total factor productivity, transaction costs, tulip mania, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, urban renewal, V2 rocket, very high income, working poor, World Values Survey, Yogi Berra

(By naming the anti-Copernican “Simplicio,” supposedly in honor of a sixthcentury Neo-Platonist named Simplicius [classical Latin "of one nature"[ simplex; in modern Italian, simplice, "straightforward"; but medieval Latin "naïve"], Galileo may not have endeared himself to the Inquisition.) In medicine the classic case was the demonstration in 1855 by John Snow (1813-1858), following on his earlier inquiry in 1849, that cholera was caused, as he put it, by people being “supplied with water containing the sewage of London.”9 He examined various named alternatives to the water-borne theory, such as miasma or person-toperson contagion. He gradually accumulated evidence that the alternative theories were untenable — devising for example clever maps of London based on house-to-house surveys during the 1854 epidemic. In particular he concluded that “If the cholera had no other means of communication than those [claimed in the older theories] which we have been considering, it would be constrained to confine itself chiefly to the crowded dwellings of the poor, and would be continually liable to die out accidentally in a place, for want of the opportunity to reach fresh victims; but there is often a way open for it to extend itself more widely, and to reach the well-to-do classes of the community; I allude to the mixture of the cholera evacuations with the water used for drinking and culinary purposes.”

But the temperate-tropical division, like Diamond’s axes of continents, cannot explain what needs explanation historically: why English people got so much cargo, and why by contrast temperate-zone Chinese people in 1700 C.E. or temperate-zone Roman people in 100 C.E. did not. After all, northwestern Europe initiated the modern world when still debilitated by cholera and smallpox and tuberculosis and especially by the malaria so devastating to modern Africa, under the name of “ague” (from which Oliver Cromwell died), called among the industrious Italians mala aria, “bad air.”25 Malaria reached its global peak, including much of Europe, in the nineteenth century, just as Europe was industrializing. Something other than disease patterns was involved in the Industrial Revolution. Mellinger, Sachs, and Gallup also argue persuasively that in recent time access to cheap ocean-going transport is crucial. But their world map of “land within 100 km of an ice-free coast or sea-navigable river,” defined as the 9-meter draft of modern ocean-goers, shows north China and Egypt as instances.26 In former times, with shallower drafts of smaller ships, and none of the post-industrial improvements in Europe and the United States of rivers and harbors (the St.

Francis Bacon’s proposals during the 1620s for improving science look like those of a bourgeois projector (though my Lord Bacon was as far from bourgeois, and as far from an advocate for dignity and liberty, as one can imagine). Let us do thus-and-such, organized in this way, says the projector in Holland and then England, and — behold! — what great benefits will flow! It is a methodical and accounting rhetoric, foreign to an aristocratic society. Much later the rhetoric appears in the public and bourgeois spirit of people like Nassau Senior around 1840 or John Snow around 1850 calling for urban renewal and the redirection of water intakes. The germ theory of disease, Mokyr has emphasize, was of course a late nineteenth-century discovery, before which and quite independent of science a cleanliness obsession had taken hold among bourgeois men and especially women, long anticipated in the Low Countries and finally spreading to France and England. Nobody took care of the water supply or public education in London in the eighteenth century.

pages: 194 words: 59,488

Frommer's Memorable Walks in London by Richard Jones


Alistair Cooke, British Empire, Isaac Newton, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, John Snow's cholera map, Maui Hawaii, medical malpractice, moral panic

The studio’s grand piano was auctioned in 1989 for £30,000. Soho • 133 From St. Anne’s Court, bear left across Wardour Street (home of many of London’s most important film companies) and walk straight onto Broadwick Street. Just ahead, at the corner of Poland Street, is the: 23. Broadwick Street Pump, a water pump that was identified by Dr. John Snow (1813–58) as the source of the 1854 Soho cholera epidemic. Snow, a noted anesthetist who had studied cholera during a previous epidemic, theorized that polluted drinking water caused the disease. He plotted on a map the addresses of more than 500 people who died in September 1854, and discovered that the Broad Street Public Water Pump (as it was then called) was at the geographic center of the epidemic. Snow’s theory initially met with disbelief, but when the doctor had the handle of the pump removed, preventing it from being used, the outbreak soon ended.

Hold on to your ticket throughout your ride; you must present it when you reach your destination. Also be sure to pick up a handy Tube map, available free at station ticket windows. (There’s an Underground map on the inside back cover of this book as well.) Essentials & Recommended Reading • 167 By Bus On the majority of City Centre buses, you either pay the driver as you enter the bus, or you press your Oyster Card (see above) against the reader as you board. On the long bendy buses, you can board via any door if you have an Oyster Card—simply touch it to the reader as you board. Many bus stops now have ticket machines from which you can purchase your tickets. Many visitors hesitate to ride the buses because their routes can be quite confusing. Get a free bus map from the tourist office, or just ask any conductor about the route and enjoy a top-deck sightseeing adventure.

Stefanciosa Photo Editor: Richard Fox Cartographer: Anton Crane Production by Wiley Indianapolis Composition Services For information on our other products and services or to obtain technical support, please contact our Customer Care Department within the U.S. at 800/762-2974, outside the U.S. at 317/572-3993 or fax 317/572-4002. Wiley also publishes its books in a variety of electronic formats. Some content that appears in print may not be available in electronic formats. Manufactured in the United States of America 5 4 3 2 1 Contents List of Maps iv Introducing the City by the Thames 1 The Walking Tours 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 The City Dickens’s London A Historic Pub Walk Westminster & Whitehall St. James’s The East End Clerkenwell Bloomsbury Soho Chelsea Hampstead 10 27 43 55 71 87 99 110 122 136 152 Essentials & Recommended Reading 165 Index 177 LIST OF MAPS The Tours at a Glance 2 The Walking Tours The City Dickens’s London A Historic Pub Walk Westminster & Whitehall St. James’s The East End Clerkenwell Bloomsbury Soho Chelsea Hampstead 12 29 45 57 73 91 101 111 124 138 153 About the Author Londoner Richard Jones has been devising walking tours of his city since 1982.

pages: 481 words: 121,300

Why geography matters: three challenges facing America : climate change, the rise of China, and global terrorism by Harm J. De Blij


agricultural Revolution, airport security, Anton Chekhov, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, British Empire, colonial exploitation, complexity theory, computer age, crony capitalism, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, Eratosthenes, European colonialism, F. W. de Klerk, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, global village, illegal immigration, Internet Archive, John Snow's cholera map, Khyber Pass, manufacturing employment, megacity, Mercator projection, out of africa, RAND corporation, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea, special economic zone, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, UNCLOS, UNCLOS

It is a map that accrues over a lifetime, the spatial equivalent of our temporal, chronological knowledge and our simultaneous ability to place major events in historical perspective. But our mental maps are not historic, they are current, and they guide and inform our actions and decisions whether a simple excursion for pleasure or a military campaign in a distant land. How clear were they when the Iraq invasion was planned? How clear are they in this century of environmental change, China's rise, and terrorism's threat? USES AND MISUSES OF MAPS When geographers are asked to provide an example of the practical utility of maps in solving real-world problems, we like to go back to the story of Dr. John Snow, a London physician-geographer who lived through several of the dreadful cholera pandemics that ravaged much of the world during the nineteenth century. No one knew for sure how cholera spread, making the disease especially frightening, and many victims died within a week of infection.

This accounted for the clustering of the dots around the pump, and the link between contaminated water and cholera was confirmed by the map. That was not the end of the story. Dr. Snow asked city officials to remove the handle from the pump, but they first demurred, saying that this would risk a riot in Soho where people were already angry about the casualty toll from cholera. So Dr. Snow and his students did it themselves, pouring lye down the hole for good measure. Soon he had his proof: the number of deaths around the intersection plummeted, new cases dropped even more sharply, and what the map had confirmed was proven beyond a doubt. Now the authorities could advise people to boil their water and to stop worrying about touching each other or inhaling "bad air," two of the suspected causes. Today, things are not that simple, but maps still help modern epidemiolo- 44 WHY GEOGRAPHY MATTERS gists trace pandemics and predict future routes of diffusion.

Unfortunately, surveys show that many Americans are unable to make full use of such traditional maps, even simple ones in commercial road atlases. They have trouble dealing with the standard properties of ordinary maps, such as scale, orientation (direction), and symbols. They find it difficult to relate the legends of maps to the contents of the maps themselves. It is also easy to be confused by the effects of certain map projections, for example the Mercator map, which has the READING MAPS AND FACING THREATS 25 asset of directional utility, but at the cost of shape and size. On a Merca-tor map, Greenland looks bigger than South America when, in fact, South America is eight times as large as Greenland. Don't plan your overseas trip with a Mercator map! MAP SCALE There is no escaping it: a map, if it encompasses a section (or all) of the Earth's surface, must represent a rounded surface on a flat piece of paper.

pages: 182 words: 56,961

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande


Airbus A320, Atul Gawande, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Checklist Manifesto, index card, John Snow's cholera map, megacity, RAND corporation, Tenerife airport disaster, US Airways Flight 1549, William Langewiesche

I asked people around WHO for examples of public health interventions we could learn from. They came up with instances like the smallpox vaccination campaign that eradicated the scourge from the world in 1979 and the work of Dr. John Snow famously tracing a deadly 1854 London cholera outbreak to water in a public well. When the disease struck a London neighborhood that summer, two hundred people died in the first three days. Three-quarters of the area’s residents fled in panic. Nonetheless, by the next week, some five hundred more died. The dominant belief was that diseases like cholera were caused by “miasmas”—putrefied air. But Snow, skeptical of the bad-air theory, made a map of where the deceased had lived and found them clustered around a single water source, a well in Soho’s Broad Street. He interviewed the bereaved families about their habits.

We may admit that errors and oversights occur—even devastating ones. But we believe our jobs are too complicated to reduce to a checklist. Sick people, for instance, are phenomenally more various than airplanes. A study of forty-one thousand trauma patients in the state of Pennsylvania—just trauma patients—found that they had 1,224 different injury-related diagnoses in 32,261 unique combinations. That’s like having 32,261 kinds of airplane to land. Mapping out the proper steps for every case is not possible, and physicians have been skeptical that a piece of paper with a bunch of little boxes would improve matters. But we have had glimmers that it might, at least in some corners. What, for instance, are the vital signs that every hospital records if not a kind of checklist? Comprised of four physiological data points—body temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and respiratory rate—they give health professionals a basic picture of how sick a person is.

Nonetheless, in medicine that’s exactly what we have done. We have a thirty-billion-dollar-a-year National Institutes of Health, which has been a remarkable power house of medical discoveries. But we have no National Institute of Health Systems Innovation alongside it studying how best to incorporate these discoveries into daily practice—no NTSB equivalent swooping in to study failures the way crash investigators do, no Boeing mapping out the checklists, no agency tracking the month-to-month results. The same can be said in numerous other fields. We don’t study routine failures in teaching, in law, in government programs, in the financial industry, or elsewhere. We don’t look for the patterns of our recurrent mistakes or devise and refine potential solutions for them. But we could, and that is the ultimate point. We are all plagued by failures—by missed subtleties, overlooked knowledge, and outright errors.

pages: 322 words: 107,576

Bad Science by Ben Goldacre


Asperger Syndrome, correlation does not imply causation, experimental subject, hygiene hypothesis, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, John Snow's cholera map, Louis Pasteur, meta analysis, meta-analysis, offshore financial centre, p-value, placebo effect, publication bias, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, selection bias, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), the scientific method, urban planning

Smoking, to everybody’s genuine surprise—one single risk factor—turned out to cause almost all lung cancer. And asbestos, through some genuinely brave and subversive investigative work, was shown to cause mesothelioma. The epidemiologists of the 1980s were On a roll, and they believed that they were going to find lifestyle causes for all the major diseases of humankind. A discipline that had got cracking when John Snow took the handle off the Broad Street pump in 1854, terminating that pocket of the Soho cholera epidemic by cutting off the supply of contaminated water (it was a bit more complicated than that, but we don’t have the time here) was going to come into its own. They were going to identify more and more of these one-to-one correlations between exposures and disease, and, in their fervent imaginations, with simple interventions and cautionary advice they were going to save whole nations of people.

Let’s take our most concrete example so far: are the sugar pills of homeopathy exploitative, if they work only as a placebo? A pragmatic clinician could only consider the value of a treatment by considering it in context. Here is a clear example of the benefits of placebo. During the nineteenth-century cholera epidemic, deaths were occurring in the London Homeopathic Hospital at just one third of the rate as in the Middlesex Hospital, but a placebo effect is unlikely to be all that beneficial in this condition. The reason for homeo-pathy’s success in this case is more interesting: at the time, nobody could treat cholera. So while hideous medical practices such as blood-letting were actively harmful, the homeopaths’ treatments at least did nothing either way. Today, similarly, there are often situations where people want treatment, but medicine has little to offer—lots of back pain, stress at work, medically unexplained fatigue and most common colds, to give just a few examples.

This is not for a lack of interest. We are obsessed with health—half of all science stories in the media are medical—and are repeatedly bombarded with sciencey-sounding claims and stories. But as you will see, we get our information from the very people who have repeatedly demonstrated themselves to be incapable of reading, interpreting and bearing reliable witness to the scientific evidence. Before we get started, let me map out the territory. Firsdy, we will look at what it means to do an experiment, to see the results with your own eyes, and judge whether they fit with a given theory, or whether an alternative is more compelling. You may find these early steps childish and patronising—the examples are certainly refreshingly absurd—but they have all been promoted credulously and with great authority in the mainstream media.

pages: 396 words: 117,149

The Master Algorithm: How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World by Pedro Domingos


3D printing, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Arthur Eddington, basic income, Bayesian statistics, Benoit Mandelbrot, bioinformatics, Black Swan, Brownian motion, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, combinatorial explosion, computer vision, constrained optimization, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, data is the new oil, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Erik Brynjolfsson, experimental subject, Filter Bubble, future of work, global village, Google Glasses, Gödel, Escher, Bach, information retrieval, job automation, John Markoff, John Snow's cholera map, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, lone genius, mandelbrot fractal, Mark Zuckerberg, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Narrative Science, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, NP-complete, off grid, P = NP, PageRank, pattern recognition, phenotype, planetary scale, pre–internet, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, superintelligent machines, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, transaction costs, Turing machine, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, white flight, zero-sum game

Instead, he saw an analogy between that crisis and the outbreak of World War I, and that analogy guided him to the right decisions. Nearest-neighbor can save lives, as Steven Johnson recounted in The Ghost Map. In 1854, London was struck by a cholera outbreak, which killed as many as one in eight people in parts of the city. The then-prevailing theory that cholera was caused by “bad air” did nothing to prevent its spread. But John Snow, a physician who was skeptical of the theory, had a better idea. He marked on a map of London the locations of all the known cases of cholera and divided the map into the regions closest to each public water pump. Eureka: nearly all deaths were in the “metro area” of one particular pump, located on Broad Street in the Soho district. Inferring that the water in that well was contaminated, Snow convinced the locals to disable the pump, and the epidemic died out.

., 138–139 Baldwin effect, 139, 140, 304 Bandit problems, 129–130 Barto, Andy, 221 Bayes, Thomas, 144–145 Bayesian learning, 166–170, 174–175 Bayesian methods, cell model and, 114 Bayesian model averaging, 166–167 Bayesian models, tweaking probabilities, 170–173 Bayesian networks, 24, 156–161, 305–306 Alchemy and, 250 gene regulation and, 159 inference problem and, 161–166 Master Algorithm and, 240, 245 relational learning and, 231 Bayesians, 51, 52–53, 54, 143–175 Alchemy and, 253 further reading, 304–305 hidden Markov model, 154–155 If . . . then . . . rules and, 155–156 inference problem, 161–166 learning and, 166–170 logic and probability and, 173–175 Markov chain, 153–155 Markov networks, 170–173 Master Algorithm and, 240–241, 242 medical diagnosis and, 149–150 models and, 149–153 nature and, 141 probabilistic inference and, 52, 53 See also Bayesian networks Bayes’ theorem, 31–32, 52–53, 143–149, 253 Beam search, 135 “Beer and diapers” rule, 69–70 Belief, probability and, 149 Belief propagation, 161–164, 242, 253 Bell Labs, 190 Bellman, Richard, 188, 220 Bellman’s equation, 220 Berkeley, George, 58 Berlin, Isaiah, 41 Bias, 78–79 Bias-free learning, futility of, 64 Bias-variance decomposition, 301 The Bible Code (Drosnin), 72 Big data, 21 A/B testing and, 227 algorithms and, 7 clustering and, 206–207 relational learning and, 232–233 science, machine learning, and, 14–16 scientific truth and, 40 Big-data systems, 258 Bing, 12 Biology, learning algorithms and, 15 Black swans, 38–39, 158, 232 The Black Swan (Taleb), 38 Blessing of nonuniformity, 189 Board games, reinforcement learning and, 219 Bohr, Niels, 178, 199 Boltzmann distribution, 103–104 Boltzmann machines, 103–104, 117, 250 Boole, George, 104, 175 Boolean circuits, 123, 136 Boolean variable, 149 Boosting, 238 Borges, Jorge Luis, 71 Box, George, 151 Brahe, Tycho, 14, 131 Brahe phase of science, 39–40 Brain learning algorithms and, 26–28 mapping, 118 number of connections in, 94–95 reverse engineering the, 52, 302 S curves and, 105 simulating with computer, 95 spin glasses and, 102–103 BRAIN initiative, 118 Breiman, Leo, 238 Brin, Sergey, 55, 227, 274 Bryson, Arthur, 113 Bucket brigade algorithm, 127 Building blocks, 128–129, 134 Buntine, Wray, 80 Burglar alarms, Bayesian networks and, 157–158 Burks, Arthur, 123 Burns, Bob, 206 Business, machine learning and, 10–13 C. elegans, 118 Cajal, Santiago Ramón y, 93–94 Caltech, 170, 261 Cancer cure algorithm for, 53–54 Bayesian learning and, 174 inverse deduction and, 83–85 Markov logic network and, 249 program for (CanceRx), 259–261, 310 Cancer diagnosis, 141 Cancer drugs predicting efficacy of, 83–84 relational learning and models for, 233 selection of, 41–42 CanceRx, 259–261, 310 Capital One, 272 Carbonell, Jaime, 69 Carnap, Rudolf, 175 Cars driverless, 113, 166, 172, 306 learning to drive, 113 Case-based reasoning, 198, 307 Catch Me If You Can (film), 177 Cause and effect, Bayes’ theorem and, 145–149 Cell model of, 114–115 relational learning and workings of, 233 Cell assembly, 94 Cell phone, hidden Markov models and, 155 Centaurs, 277 Central Dogma, 83 Cerebellum, 27, 118 Chance, Bayes and, 145 Chaos, study of, 30 Checkers-playing program, 219 Cholera outbreak, London’s, 182–183 Chomsky, Noam, 36–38 Chrome, 266 Chunking, 223–227, 254, 309 Circuit design, genetic programming and, 135–136 Classes, 86–87, 209, 257 Classifiers, 86–87, 127 Master Algorithm and, 240 Naïve Bayes, 151–153 nearest-neighbor algorithm and, 183 Clinton, Bill, 18 Clustering, 205–210, 254, 257 hierarchical, 210 Cluster prototypes, 207–208 Clusters, 205–210 “Cocktail party” problem, 215 Cognition, theory of, 226 Coin toss, 63, 130, 167–168 Collaborative filtering systems, 183–184, 306–307 Columbus test, 113 Combinatorial explosion, 73–74 Commoner, Barry, 158 Commonsense reasoning, 35, 118–119, 145, 276–277, 300 Complexity monster, 5–6, 7, 43, 246 Compositionality, 119 Computational biologists, use of hidden Markov models, 155 Computers decision making and, 282–286 evolution of, 286–289 human interaction with, 264–267 as learners, 45 logic and, 2 S curves and, 105 as sign of Master Algorithm, 34 simulating brain using, 95 as unifier, 236 writing own programs, 6 Computer science, Master Algorithm and, 32–34 Computer vision, Markov networks and, 172 Concepts, 67 conjunctive, 66–68 set of rules and, 68–69 sets of, 86–87 Conceptual model, 44, 152 Conditional independence, 157–158 Conditional probabilities, 245 Conditional random fields, 172, 306 Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS), 170, 172 Conjunctive concepts, 65–68, 74 Connectionists/connectionism, 51, 52, 54, 93–119 Alchemy and, 252 autoencoder and, 116–118 backpropagation and, 52, 107–111 Boltzmann machine and, 103–104 cell model, 114–115 connectomics, 118–119 deep learning and, 115 further reading, 302–303 Master Algorithm and, 240–241 nature and, 137–142 neural networks and, 112–114 perceptron, 96–101, 107–108 S curves and, 104–107 spin glasses and, 102–103 symbolist learning vs., 91, 94–95 Connectomics, 118–119 Consciousness, 96 Consilience (Wilson), 31 Constrained optimization, 193–195, 241, 242 Constraints, support vector machines and, 193–195 Convolutional neural networks, 117–119, 303 Cope, David, 199, 307 Cornell University, Creative Machines Lab, 121–122 Cortex, 118, 138 unity of, 26–28, 299–300 Counterexamples, 67 Cover, Tom, 185 Crawlers, 8–9 Creative Machines Lab, 121–122 Credit-assignment problem, 102, 104, 107, 127 Crick, Francis, 122, 236 Crossover, 124–125, 134–136, 241, 243 Curse of dimensionality, 186–190, 196, 201, 307 Cyber Command, 19 Cyberwar, 19–21, 279–282, 299, 310 Cyc project, 35, 300 DARPA, 21, 37, 113, 121, 255 Darwin, Charles, 28, 30, 131, 235 algorithm, 122–128 analogy and, 178 Hume and, 58 on lack of mathematical ability, 127 on selective breeding, 123–124 variation and, 124 Data accuracy of held-out, 75–76 Bayes’ theorem and, 31–32 control of, 45 first principal component of the, 214 human intuition and, 39 learning from finite, 24–25 Master Algorithm and, 25–26 patterns in, 70–75 sciences and complex, 14 as strategic asset for business, 13 theory and, 46 See also Big data; Overfitting; Personal data Database engine, 49–50 Databases, 8, 9 Data mining, 8, 73, 232–233, 298, 306.

Inspired by the human genome project, the new field of connectomics seeks to map every synapse in the brain. The European Union is investing a billion euros to build a soup-to-nuts model of it. America’s BRAIN initiative, with $100 million in funding in 2014 alone, has similar aims. Nevertheless, symbolists are very skeptical of this path to the Master Algorithm. Even if we can image the whole brain at the level of individual synapses, we (ironically) need better machine-learning algorithms to turn those images into wiring diagrams; doing it by hand is out of the question. Worse than that, even if we had a complete map of the brain, we would still be at a loss to figure out what it does. The nervous system of the C. elegans worm consists of only 302 neurons and was completely mapped in 1986, but we still have only a fragmentary understanding of what it does.

pages: 437 words: 115,594

The Great Surge: The Ascent of the Developing World by Steven Radelet


Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Asian financial crisis, bank run, Berlin Wall, Branko Milanovic, business climate, business process, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, colonial rule, creative destruction, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Doha Development Round, Erik Brynjolfsson, European colonialism, F. W. de Klerk, failed state, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, income inequality, income per capita, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of the steam engine, James Watt: steam engine, John Snow's cholera map, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, land reform, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, off grid, oil shock, out of africa, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, randomized controlled trial, Robert Gordon, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Simon Kuznets, South China Sea, special economic zone, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade route, women in the workforce, working poor

The roots of the recent gains in health in developing countries stretch back more than two centuries to the improvements in health in Western Europe that began with the Enlightenment and the industrial revolution.5 The combination of increased incomes, improved nutrition, better living conditions, education, and public health interventions for clean water and improved sanitation led to rapid gains in mortality and morbidity. One of the most important breakthroughs was the discovery in 1855 by the London physician John Snow, known now as the father of modern epidemiology, that deadly cholera was being spread by contaminated drinking water.6 Snow’s work, alongside that of several others, led to the development of modern germ theory. This knowledge and the public health interventions it spurred were central to the reductions in child death and improvements in health in Western Europe. The development of vaccines, antibiotics, and other medicines further accelerated progress.

ua=1; Diarrhoea: Why Children Are Still Dying and What Can Be Done (New York: United Nations Children’s Fund [UNICEF]; and Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization [WHO], 2009),; “Diarrhoeal Disease: Fact Sheet 330,” World Health Organization, last modified April 2013, 4. At the request of the family, we have changed the names in this section. 5. For an excellent in-depth analysis of these changes, see Angus Deaton, The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013). 6. For a terrific account of Snow’s dogged determination and sleuthing skills in tracing the origins of cholera, see Steven Johnson, The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World (New York: Riverhead Books, 2007). 7. “Chapter 4: Mortality, 2010-Based NPP Reference Volume,” Office for National Statistics (United Kingdom), March 29, 2012, fig. 4.6, 8. “Life Expectancy at Exact Age x (ex), for Both Sexes Combined, by Major Area, Region and Country, 1950–2010,” in World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision, United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, New York, June 2013, 9.

Finally, an additional emerging health challenge facing developing countries is the increased prevalence of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Health expert Thomas Bollyky of the Council on Foreign Relations has shown that with the decline in child death and infectious diseases, NCDs have become the largest cause of death in developing countries. To some extent, this development is a normal part of the epidemiological transition: at very low incomes, infectious diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, malaria, and other parasites and viruses are the biggest killers. As incomes rise and societies are better able to fight those diseases, people live longer and are more likely to be affected by NCDs. This shift seems to be happening rapidly and is disproportionately affecting younger people in developing countries. In part, the increased prevalence of NCDs is due to continued weaknesses in health systems, and in part to rapid urbanization combined with less nutritious diets, greater tobacco use, and exposure to air pollution.

pages: 464 words: 127,283

Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia by Anthony M. Townsend


1960s counterculture, 4chan, A Pattern Language, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, anti-communist, Apple II, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Burning Man, business process, call centre, carbon footprint, charter city, chief data officer, clean water, cleantech, cloud computing, computer age, congestion charging, connected car, crack epidemic, crowdsourcing, DARPA: Urban Challenge, data acquisition, Deng Xiaoping, digital map, Donald Davies, East Village, Edward Glaeser, game design, garden city movement, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Gilder, ghettoisation, global supply chain, Grace Hopper, Haight Ashbury, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, interchangeable parts, Internet Archive, Internet of things, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jane Jacobs, jitney, John Snow's cholera map, Khan Academy, Kibera, knowledge worker, load shedding, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, mobile money, mutually assured destruction, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, off grid, openstreetmap, packet switching, Parag Khanna, patent troll, Pearl River Delta, place-making, planetary scale, popular electronics, RFC: Request For Comment, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Gordon, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, social software, social web, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, technoutopianism, Ted Kaczynski, telepresence, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, too big to fail, trade route, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush, working poor, working-age population, X Prize, Y2K, zero day, Zipcar

Heeks calls this model “para-poor”: outsiders work alongside members of poor communities in “participative, user-engaged design processes.”43 As the movement evolves, and technologies like the mobile phone trickle down, Heeks envisions a second shift to “per-poor” innovation, done entirely by and for the poor. While Map Kibera is clearly a para-poor project, with Westerners bringing in new technology and design ideas, it has created a framework on which per-poor innovation can happen. Mapping has tremendous power to improve the slums of the developing world. John Snow’s map of cholera deaths in 1850s London recast the public understanding of slum conditions, and spurred reforms that eventually rid the city of the disease for good. In India, slum mapping is helping change the practice of city planning, which long considered those communities “chaotic masses rather than coherent urban areas,” according to Shelter Associates.44 But in both cases, governments responded achingly slowly. Map Kibera offers the hope that by using maps to power community-based initiatives, rather than simply lobby government, progress will be faster.

Sealed in their plastic tomb, disease-carrying microbes have a much harder time spreading. Cholera, dispersed through London’s contaminated water supply, killed more than ten thousand people in 1853–54 alone.36 Kibera has its share of water-borne disease but nothing on that scale. Home to an estimated 250,000 residents, Kibera is one of Africa’s largest slums.37 But if you looked it up on Google Maps in 2008 and toggled between the satellite view and street-map view, you could make it disappear. One second it was there, a zoomable patina of corrugated tin shacks amid a rich tapestry of alleys and roads, unable to hide from a camera floating in space. Then it was gone, replaced by a blank spot drawn from a government map that still identified the area as the forest that previously stood there. Kibera’s omission spoke volumes about how officials and the public saw it.

By systematically traveling the streets of every city, town, and village in the United Kingdom, an army of volunteers set out to make a freely-usable map. As of 2013, after years of collective surveying and annotation, the crowdsourced street map of England was finally nearing completion. The effort has since expanded around the world, and in poor countries often rivals the government’s own maps. After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, which obliterated the nation’s mapping agency in a building collapse, OpenStreetMap provided essential data to relief organizations. The Indian activists who pioneered slum mapping in the 1990s saw their work as a way to begin integrating poor communities into existing city-planning efforts in the hope of securing a fairer share of government resources. But with the new chart living online in OpenStreetMap, Map Kibera is focused instead on powering new tools that change how the community is represented in the media, and how organizers lobby the government to address local problems.

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The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor by William Easterly


air freight, Andrei Shleifer, battle of ideas, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business process, business process outsourcing, Carmen Reinhart, clean water, colonial rule, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Deng Xiaoping, desegregation, discovery of the americas, Edward Glaeser,, European colonialism, Francisco Pizarro, fundamental attribution error, germ theory of disease, greed is good, Gunnar Myrdal, income per capita, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John Snow's cholera map, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, M-Pesa, microcredit, Monroe Doctrine, oil shock, place-making, Ponzi scheme, risk/return, road to serfdom, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, urban planning, urban renewal, Washington Consensus, World Values Survey, young professional

Princeton Professor Angus Deaton shows in his 2013 book, The Great Escape, that understanding (which led to correcting) this problem had the largest single effect on child mortality in rich countries over this period. We will see in a future chapter how free societies are the best option for scientific discoveries and technological breakthroughs. Here we just note in passing that the germ theory of disease needed to arrive in New York. It did so later in the nineteenth century, mainly through research from England. The physician John Snow’s famous identification of a particular water pump in London as the source of the contaminated water that spread cholera in 1854 London was a key turning point.27 Virtually all the scientific discoveries that also enable progress today on child mortality in poor countries were made in free societies. The next problem after understanding the science was indeed the lack of proper water and sanitation in New York. It took a while for the germ theory to get translated into government action on these services.

In 1842, the government finished the Croton Aqueduct to bring drinking water to the city. Between 1849 and 1865, the new Croton Aqueduct department also laid down a network of sewer pipes.29 (Prior to that effort, the word sewer just referred to an open ditch down the middle of residential streets.) 30 An 1851 map showed the sewer line had reached the Greene Street block, although that was as far north as it went on Greene. Coverage for the city was still minimal. In 1856, New York had about 10,000 “water closets” featuring piped-in water and piped-out sewage for a population of 630,000.31 Political reform movements demanded more. Epidemics of cholera (1849, 1854, 1866) and typhus (1851, 1864) helped them make their case.32 As we have seen with the death of Benjamin Seixas’s brother Myer from typhus, contagious diseases were a problem for all classes of society. With contagion, the health of the neighborhood of the rich was also affected by conditions in the neighborhood of the poor.

But he and his family would also suffer from the failure of New York’s and America’s development on health as of 1850. Benjamin and his wife Mary had the tragedy of seeing three of their ten children die as infants (and a fourth would die later at age eighteen). First, their daughter Sara died at three months of age in 1842. In 1849, at eight months of age, their son Daniel died of convulsions (possibly reflecting acute dehydration from a diarrheal disease like cholera). In 1852, their son Washington died at eight months.23 Benjamin’s relatives, even his wealthy stockbroker cousins Mendes Nathan and Benjamin Nathan, did not escape health tragedies. Benjamin Nathan’s daughter Luisa died of scarlet fever at age five on Bleecker Street in 1852. The next year his son Lucien died at the age of seven months.24 Mendes Nathan, down Greene Street from Benjamin Seixas at 22 Greene, saw his daughter Constance die from dysentery at the age of nineteen months in 1849.

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I Think You'll Find It's a Bit More Complicated Than That by Ben Goldacre


call centre, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, Desert Island Discs,, experimental subject, Firefox, Flynn Effect, jimmy wales, John Snow's cholera map, Loebner Prize, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral panic, placebo effect, publication bias, selection bias, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Simon Singh, statistical model, stem cell, the scientific method, Turing test, WikiLeaks

Perhaps the average distance from a mast in any urban area is less than the average distance for the whole country, because masts tend to be clustered in urban areas, where the people are (like postboxes, or corner shops). Maybe densely populated poor areas with less political influence have more masts foisted upon them by planning committees, and maybe these poor areas also have more suicides. Or maybe Dr Coghill is on to something? Clusters on maps have been the beginning of several interesting stories in epidemiology, including John Snow’s discovering, in 1854, that the Broad Street pump was responsible for the Soho cholera outbreak. I asked Dr Coghill which ‘averages’ he meant. But he would not tell me. Who is Dr Coghill? He says he doesn’t have a doctorate, and that the Express made a mistake. Does he ‘sit on a government advisory committee on mobile radiation’? Sort of. Mr Coghill participates in something called SAGE, a ‘stakeholder’ group which discusses power cables (not mobile phones) and is run at the request of the Department of Health by RK Partnerships Ltd, a company that specialises in mediation, facilitation and conflict resolution.

(Goldacre report for UK education minister) 202–18 Bundesbank 56 Burstow, Paul 174–6 Bush, George W. 13, 185, 298, 316 Cabinet Office White Paper on using randomised controlled trials to improve government policy, 2011 202n Cambridge Film Festival 281, 283 Cambridge University 102, 226, 352, 355 Cameron, David 173 Campbell, Denis 343, 344, 346, 347–55 cancer: bladder cancer and fluoride 24–5; bladder cancer and swimming in chlorinated water 342; bowel cancer rates, UK 101–4; brain cancer and mobile phones 116–18; breast cancer and abortion 200–1; breast cancer and diet 338–40; breast cancer and red wine 269; breast cancer screening 114–15; and 78, 83; cervical cancer jab 331–4; using Facebook and 221; herbal medicine and 265, 267; lung cancer and alcohol 107–9; prostate cancer 144; smoking and 3, 22, 319; trials published, only one in four 146; UK survival rates 169–71, 173; urinary tract 265; vaccination and 267, 331–4 Cancer Research UK 339 capital punishment, murder rates and 311–12 Cardiff University 29–31, 40 CardioSEAL 248 77–86 Cataldo, Janine 20–1 Caterson, Professor 30, 31 Catholic Church, condoms and xx, 183–5, 186 caveats in newspaper articles 338–40 Cellarnot 123 censorship, Brain Gym and 10–12 Central TV 269, 270 Cervarix 332, 333 cervical cancer 332–4 chance, certainty of 56–8 Channel 4 News 118, 121, 197, 251 Charlton, Bruce 140–1, 145 393, 395 cherry-picking scientific literature xvii, 5–8, 12, 174, 176–7, 192, 193, 252, 336, 349, 355 Chief Medical Officer for Wales 12 child abuse xix, 157–9, 391–5 children, critiques of adult pseudoscience by 10–12 Chimoio, Archbishop Francisco 183–4 China: girls’ love of pink and 44–5 Chinese traditional medicine xix, 265–7, 388 chlorthalidone 119–20 cholera, Soho outbreak, 1854 365 Christian Medical Fellowship 197 Church, Dr Timothy 336–7 CIA 357 cigarette packaging xxi, 318–21 Cirak, Sebahattin 121 Circulation 248 ‘citation classics’ 9–10, 102–3, 173 Citation, network of 26–7 ClimateSock 96 Clinical Trials Units 217 clustered water 388–9 clusters on maps 364–6 coalition government, UK, 2010–14: drugs addicts and sentencing policy 177–9; NHS reform 73, 169–77; ‘Programme for Government’ 177 Cochrane, Archie 209–10, 211, 218, 252, 297–300 Cochrane Group 298 Cochrane Library 298, 300, 336 cod liver oil 29–31 Coe, Robert 189 coffee, hallucinatory effects of 64–6 Coghill, Dr Roger 363–7 College of Natural Nutrition 268, 270 Colquhoun, Professor David 252, 266 Coma Science Group, Belgium 326 comas, communication in xxi, 324–6 Commonwealth Games, 2022 156 Complementary and Alternative Therapy magazine 278 Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council, the (CNHC) 266 computer games, dementia and 3–5 condoms, Catholic Church and xx, 183–5, 186 conference papers 193 conflict-of-interest stories 402 conformity, studies on 15–17 confounding variables xviii, 107–9, 111 Congolese Bishops’ Conference 183 Conservative Party 150, 180, 201 Copp, Professor Andrew 120–2 copy number variants (CNV) 40 copyright 33, 76 cosmetics companies xxii, 254–7, 388–9 Cosmos 250 council overspending xix, 152–4 creationism 13, 281, 284 crime: outrage is lower when a criminal has more victims xxi, 306–9; prevention numbers and DNA database xix, 162–5; sentencing policy 177–9 Crohns Disease 12 Daily Express: council wastage story 152–3; ‘Mum Beats Odds of 50 Million-to-One to Have 3 Babies on Same Date’ story 49; ‘Danger from just 7 cups of coffee a day’ story 64–6; ‘Record numbers of people are being handed antidepressants’ story 105; ‘stilettos tone up your legs’ story 341 Daily Mail 25; breast enhancement cream story 255; cod liver oil ‘nature’s superdrug’ story 29; ‘Council incompetence ‘“costs every household £452 a year’’’ story 152; ‘Up to 10bn a year is wasted by clueless councils’ story 152; ‘Economic woes fuel dramatic rise in use of antidepressants’ story 104–5; ‘How Using Facebook Could Raise your Risk of Cancer’ story 221; increase in number of Down’s syndrome babies story 61, 63; music piracy stories 159–60; prehistoric monuments on a grid of isosceles triangles stories 66, 67; psychological nature of libido problems story 37; sending babies to daycare causes damage to future health story 5–6; ‘Strict diet two days a week “cuts risk of breast cancer by 40 per cent’’’ story 338–9; ‘Swimming too Often in Chlorinated Water “Could Increase Risk of Developing Bladder Cancer’’, Say Scientists’ story 342 Daily Mirror: Down’s syndrome births increase story and 61, 63; reporter has compressed molecule hair treatment 389 Daily Telegraph: British forces seizure of Afghan heroin story 221; ‘Doctors say no to abortion in their surgeries’ story 89–91; ‘economic woes fuel dramatic rise in use of anti-depressants’ story 104–7; ‘IVF children have bigger vocabulary than unplanned children’ story 107; Krügel missing person locator story 275–6; ‘Man Cut Off Own Head with Chainsaw’ story 362; nutritionists, coverage of 268, 269; pornography for sperm donors story 179–82; public sector pay stories 149, 150, 151; Reform: ‘The Value of Mathematics’, coverage of 194; Sarah’s Law prevention of abuse figures story, coverage of 159; ‘why stilettos are the secret to shapely legs’ story 341; ‘wind farms blamed for stranding of whales’ story 340–1; ‘women who dress provocatively more likely to be raped, claim scientists’ story 329 Dangerous Drugs Act, 1920 229 Dartmouth Medical School, New Hampshire 358–9 datamining, terrorism and 51–3 Davies, Nick 227 Davies, Philip 318 Dawkins, Richard 13 daycare, development of child brain and 5–8 Deer, Brian 354, 357–8 Deleuze, Gilles 297, 298 dementia, computer games and 3–5 Deming, Dr W.

view=long &pmid=10195966 a significant decrease: Roger Coghill and the Aids Test Roger Coghill: linked to phone masts: evidence of a possible link: living/cancercontroversies/howdoweknow/ Broad Street pump: a ‘stakeholder’ group: specialises in mediation: their last document: first interim assessment.pdf angel investment: ‘Asphalia’: visited his website: protection equipment:

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Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks by Ken Jennings


Asperger Syndrome, augmented reality, Bartolomé de las Casas, Berlin Wall, British Empire, clean water, David Brooks, digital map, don't be evil, dumpster diving, Eratosthenes, game design, Google Earth, helicopter parent, hive mind, index card, John Harrison: Longitude, John Snow's cholera map, Mercator projection, Mercator projection distort size, especially Greenland and Africa, Mikhail Gorbachev, New Journalism, openstreetmap, place-making, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Skype, Stewart Brand, Tacoma Narrows Bridge, traveling salesman, urban planning

I feel a little twinge of vertigo—not just that I’m holding in my hands a map personally drawn by The Father of His Country, Mr. First President, Ol’ Ivory Teeth himself, but also that this priceless artifact is sitting seemingly unnoticed in a nondescript drawer (“Virginia 3884.A”), lost among dozens of similar maps. The number of mind-blowing items like this one in the library’s collection is powerful testimony to the omnipresent Zelig-like role that maps have played, always just behind the scenes, in the history of the world. I already described how Columbus’s fateful voyage was inspired by his study of a map by Paolo Toscanelli. But there was also the 1854 cholera outbreak in London, which killed hundreds of people until a physician, John Snow, drew a map demonstrating that a single contaminated water pump was the source of the illness, thereby founding the science of epidemiology.

As a species, the loss of our spatial abilities might be a tragedy, but to a map nerd, an even sadder casualty of the digital map revolution might be paper maps themselves. As I wander into downtown Seattle’s biggest map store, I notice immediately that its new location, near the tourist-packed Pike Place Market, displays fewer travel maps than the previous store did. The cabinet of USGS topographical maps on the back wall is usually left alone; hikers get the trail maps they need on their cell phones. “The map business has slowed down a lot,” the store’s co-owner tells me. She gestures vaguely to a rack of folded pocket maps. “When a new map like that came out, we used to have to order twenty, twenty-five of them, or we’d sell out. Now we’re lucky to sell one or two. We hope we can stay alive by diversifying.” Indeed, this nominal “map store” now fills most of its space with travel items (backpacks and guidebooks) and vaguely geographical gifts (national flags, dodecahedral Earth globes, and novelty wall maps that use some design gimmick—$3,500 in rare hardwoods, for example, or cleverly placed notes on a series of musical staffs—to delineate the continents).

For other kids, it was the globe in Dad’s study, or the atlas stretched out on the shag carpeting of the living room, or a free gas station map during a family vacation to Yosemite. (Many cases of twentieth-century American map geekdom, it seems, began the same way that many twentieth-century Americans began: conceived in the backseats of Buicks.) But whatever the map, all it takes is one. Cartophilia, the love of maps, is a love at first sight. It must be predestined, written somewhere in the chromosomes. It’s been this way for centuries. That wooden map puzzle that took my map virginity when I was three? Those date back to the 1760s, when they were called “dissected maps” and were wildly popular toys, the ancestors of all modern jigsaw puzzles. For Victorian children, the most common first map was a page in a family or school Bible, since a map of the Holy Land was often the only color plate in a vast sea of “begat“s and “behold“s.

pages: 316 words: 90,165

You Are Here: From the Compass to GPS, the History and Future of How We Find Ourselves by Hiawatha Bray


A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Albert Einstein, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bitcoin, British Empire, call centre, crowdsourcing, Dava Sobel, digital map, don't be evil, Edmond Halley, Edward Snowden, Firefox, game design, Google Earth, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, Isaac Newton, job automation, John Harrison: Longitude, John Snow's cholera map, license plate recognition, lone genius, openstreetmap, polynesian navigation, popular electronics, RAND corporation, RFID, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, trade route, turn-by-turn navigation, uranium enrichment, urban planning, V2 rocket, Zipcar

As their databases became deeper and more geographically precise, cartographers painted layers of valuable georeferenced information onto more and more maps. German mapmaker August Crome created an economic map of Europe in the late eighteenth century showing where key industrial commodities were produced. In 1798 a New York physician named Valentine Seaman created possibly the first map to depict the incidence and spread of a disease—in this case yellow fever, at the time rampant in Lower Manhattan. In 1801 the first major map of the geology of England and Wales was published, and in 1854 British physician John Snow gained national renown for his map of a cholera outbreak in London. By mapping the homes of the victims and the nearby sources of drinking water, Snow proved that the disease had been spread by the water from a particular public well, which had been contaminated with human waste.1 No one questioned the value of thematic maps, only their cost.

Jonathan Brown, “No. 1 in the Charts Since 1747; Now Its Maps Are Available on the Web,” Independent, April 2, 2010. 20. Carl Franzen, “OpenStreetMap Reaches 1 Million Users, Will Rival Google Maps in 2 Years,” Talking Points Memo, January 12, 2013, 21. Rocha, “A Map-Making Democracy.” 22. “MapQuest to Launch Open-Source Mapping in Europe,” Wireless News, July 20, 2010. 23. Rob D. Young, “Google Maps API to Charge for High-Volume Usage,” Search Engine Watch, November 2, 2011, 24. Quentin Hardy, “Facing Fees, Some Sites Are Bypassing Google Maps,” New York Times, March 20, 2012. 25. Google Geo Developers blog, June 22, 2012, 26.

A developer can use the API to generate a “mashup”—a mixture of digital data from two or more sources that results in something new and useful. Maps are ideal raw material for a mashup—“Where is it?” is one of mankind’s favorite questions. With the Google Maps API, a website can easily include an embedded map that points visitors to the corporate headquarters, the nearest branch office, or the church where the wedding takes place in two weeks. Website developers were enthralled by the Google service. In 2012 the company estimated that 800,000 websites make use of the Google Maps API.3 And although most people don’t know an API from a chimpanzee, they certainly noticed the excellent maps that appeared on so many of their favorite sites, each prominently displaying the Google brand. It was advertising at its most effective. Generally, you saw a MapQuest map only when you visited the MapQuest website. Google’s maps were everywhere.

pages: 480 words: 138,041

The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry by Gary Greenberg


Albert Einstein, Asperger Syndrome, back-to-the-land, David Brooks, impulse control, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Snow's cholera map, late capitalism, Louis Pasteur, McMansion, meta analysis, meta-analysis, neurotypical, phenotype, placebo effect, random walk, selection bias, statistical model, theory of mind, Winter of Discontent

Science, especially modern medicine, is founded on this equally optimistic idea: that experts can purge their inquiry of prejudice and desire, and map the landscape of suffering along its natural boundaries. Greek doctors, as it turned out, were not so good at this. They had some ideas about what those natural formations were, largely having to do with four bodily humors—blood, bile, phlegm, and melancholy—that, if thrown out of balance, could cause illness. But humoral theory was more metaphysics and wishful thinking than truth. Even Hippocrates and his disciples seemed to know this, as they traded mostly in empiricism—the painstaking observation of the way symptoms appeared to the doctor’s senses, the courses they took, the outcomes they reached, and the interventions that affected them. In the nineteenth century, most doctors still believed that humoral imbalances caused disease. Before John Snow20 could persuade the local government to close the infected well that caused the 1854 cholera outbreak in London, he had to overcome the common idea that the disease was carried by a miasma, bad air that could upset humoral balance.

They underwent countless therapies: For an account of the treatment of homosexuals, see LeVay, Queer Science, chapter 4. 13. 11 percent of the U.S. adult population: Centers for Disease Control, “NCHS Data Brief, October 19, 2011,” 14. you got tired of feeling numb: For side effects of antidepressants, see Glenmullen, Prozac Backlash. 15. placebo effect: Kirsch, The Emperor’s New Drugs. 16. this chemical imbalance does not, as far as doctors know: Greenberg, Manufacturing Depression. 17. more than seventy combinations of symptoms: See DSM-IV-TR, 356. There are nine symptoms of depression, but patients need have only five in any combination to earn the diagnosis. 18. “another [of] the ten thousand”: Cartwright, “Diseases and Peculiarities,” Part 1, 336. 19. “Love is a madness”: Plato, Phaedrus, 265e. 20. Before John Snow: The best account of this famous story is probably Steven Johnson’s The Ghost Map. 21. Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch: Ullmann, “Pasteur–Koch.” 22. “blessed rage to order”: Stevens, “The Idea of Order at Key West,” The Palm at the End of the Mind. 23. Adam and Eve: Genesis 2:19–21. 24. “loose, baggy monster”: Henry James, The Tragic Muse, 4. 25. “insomnia, flushing, drowsiness”: Beard, American Nervousness, 7–8. 26. “As long as I live”: Gay, Freud, 491. 27.

Before John Snow20 could persuade the local government to close the infected well that caused the 1854 cholera outbreak in London, he had to overcome the common idea that the disease was carried by a miasma, bad air that could upset humoral balance. Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch21 had to work hard to convince their colleagues that germs caused diseases like rabies and anthrax, and that they (the germs, not the colleagues) could be targeted and killed. As the microscope and the chemical assay provided incontrovertible evidence of germs and their destruction, doctors were won over to the germ theory, and soon it seemed that they had begun to fulfill Socrates’ dictum to find the natural joints that separated our ills from one another. By the turn of the twentieth century, doctors were stalking disease like Sherlock Holmes stalked criminals.

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Golden Holocaust: Origins of the Cigarette Catastrophe and the Case for Abolition by Robert N. Proctor


bioinformatics, carbon footprint, clean water, corporate social responsibility, Deng Xiaoping, desegregation, facts on the ground, friendly fire, germ theory of disease, index card, Indoor air pollution, information retrieval, invention of gunpowder, John Snow's cholera map, language of flowers, life extension, New Journalism, optical character recognition, pink-collar, Ponzi scheme, Potemkin village, publication bias, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, selection bias, speech recognition, stem cell, telemarketer, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, Upton Sinclair, Yogi Berra

In its simplest form, epidemiology involved little more than comparing two groups to see whether people who, say, drank from a particular well were more or less likely to get cholera, or whether sailors who drank citrus on a ship were more or less likely to get scurvy. Early epidemiology involved a kind of detective work: John Snow in London in 1854, for example, plotted cholera deaths on a map and discovered that deaths clustered around a water pump on Broad Street. Recognizing fouled drinking water as the cause of the disease, he famously convinced the Board of Governors of St. James Parish to remove the handle from this pump and helped put an end to the epidemic. (Steven Johnson’s Ghost Map is the best book on this.) Early tobacco epidemiologists couldn’t use maps—smoking is a mobile, multipoint-source pollutant—but they could look at whether people with lung cancer tended to share certain attributes or behaviors.

Elizabeth Borgwardt, Associate Professor of History, Washington University “Proctor draws masterfully from a vast archive of documents wrested from the industry, including many never before discussed, and mounts an unforgettable case about what the tobacco industry has done and what we must do about it. This is the book to help us understand what we must do to save lives.” Peter Galison, author of Einstein’s Clocks, Poincaré’s Maps “Robert Proctor draws an unvarnished conclusion: that the tobacco industry, and the men who led it, were evil, plain and simple. They knowingly sold a product that, when used as intended, killed people. And then they conspired to suppress the evidence. Not everyone will agree with Proctor, but anyone interested in the intertwined issues of science and health, and culture and commerce, needs to read this book.”

To reduce the 500 million deaths tobacco industry products are projected to cause amongst those presently alive, public health advocates must study the life patterns of the tobacco industry as earnestly as they would any other disease vector. The investigative tools, however, are different. Rather than a tiny insect, this vector has economic resources rivalling those of many of the world’s largest governments. . . . With more than a billion smokers worldwide, tobacco is mankind’s most widespread serious infection, and among its most contagious. The pathway has recently become known: Its spread is mapped out in mahogany-lined boardrooms; it breeds its resistance to countermeasures in political backrooms; and it seizes its victims in adolescent bedrooms.1 LeGresley goes on to point out that one difference between tobacco and, say, a mosquito transmitting malaria is that the cigarette men know they are being studied. That is why “third party” agents are so often used—to disguise the nature of the process of contagion.

pages: 936 words: 252,313

Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease by Gary Taubes


Albert Einstein, California gold rush, cognitive dissonance, collaborative editing, Drosophila, Everything should be made as simple as possible, experimental subject, Gary Taubes, invention of agriculture, John Snow's cholera map, meta analysis, meta-analysis, phenotype, placebo effect, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Robert Gordon, selection bias, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, unbiased observer, Upton Sinclair

In discussions of dietary fat and heart disease, it is often forgotten that the epidemiologic tools used to link heart disease to diet were relatively new and had never been successfully put to use previously in this kind of challenge. The science of epidemiology evolved to make sense of infectious diseases, not common chronic diseases like heart disease. Though the tools of epidemiology—comparisons of populations with and without the disease—had proved effective in establishing that a disease such as cholera is caused by the presence of micro-organisms in contaminated water, as the British physician John Snow demonstrated in 1854, it is a much more complicated endeavor to employ those same tools to elucidate the subtler causes of chronic disease. They can certainly contribute to the case against the most conspicuous determinants of noninfectious diseases—that cigarettes cause lung cancer, for example. But lung cancer was an extremely rare disease before cigarettes became widespread, and smokers are thirty times as likely to get it as nonsmokers.

“Robust Conditioned Flavor Preference Produced by Intragastric Starch Infusions in Rats.” American Journal of Physiology. Oct.; 255(4, pt. 2):R672–75. Scott, E. M., and I. V. Griffith. 1957. “Diabetes Mellitus in Eskimos.” Metabolism. July; 6(4):320–25. Scrimshaw, N. S., and W. Dietz. 1995. “Potential Advantages and Disadvantages of Human Obesity.” In de Garine and Pollock, eds., 1995, 147–62. Sears, B., and B. Lawren. 1995. The Zone: A Dietary Road Map. New York: HarperCollins. Seftel, H. C., K. J. Keeley, A. R. Walker, J. J. Theron, and D. Delange. 1965. “Coronary Heart Disease in Aged South African Bantu.” Geriatrics. March; 20:194–205. Segal, K. R., and F. X. Pi-Sunyer. 1989. “Exercise and Obesity.” Medical Clinics of North America. Jan.; 73(1):217–36. Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs of the United States Senate. 1977a. Dietary Goals for the United States.