Jean-Laurent Casanova | PNAS | 12th June 2023
The germ theory of disease has dominated medicine since the mid-19th century. But to see germs as the cause of disease, while true, misses the point. There are germs everywhere, all of the time. Disease happens, not so much because there are germs around, but because the body's defences fail against a particular germ. What medicine needs is not a "germ theory" of disease, but a "host theory" (8,100 words)
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Virginia Postrel | Reason | 10th July 2023
Pocket-sized gadgets were as popular in the 18th century as they are now. People loved showing off their watches and nutmeg graters, snuff boxes and flea-glasses. Adam Smith discerned in these "trinkets" the beginnings of a distinctly modern, even modernist, aesthetic: "What pleases these lovers of toys is not so much the utility, as the aptness of the machines which are fitted to promote it" (1,600 words)