1 Oscar Sheynin History of Statistics Berlin, 2012 ISBN 978-3 ...

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1 Oscar Sheynin History of Statistics Berlin, 2012 ISBN 978-3 ...

A physician is a blind man armed with a club. He lifts it without knowingwho will he hit. If he hits the disease, he kills it; if he hits Nature, he killsNature.The physician most deserving to be consulted, is that who least believes inmedicine.All this is contained in the second edition of his book, but was written notlater than in 1783, the year of his death.Especially important was the study of prevention of smallpox(Condamine 1759, 1763, 1773; Karn 1931). Condamine (1759) listed theobjections against inoculation, both medical and religious. Indeed, anapproval from theologians was really needed. White (1896/1898) describedthe warfare of science with theology and included (vol. 2, pp. 55 – 59)examples of fierce opposition to inoculation (and, up to 1803, to vaccinationof smallpox). Many thousands of Canadians perished in the mid-19 th centuryonly because, stating their religious belief, they had refused to be inoculated.White distinguished between theology, the opposing force, and practicalreligion. Condamine (1773) included his correspondence, in particular withDaniel Bernoulli, to whom he had given the data on smallpox epidemicswhich the latter used in his research.Karn began her article by stating thatThe method used in this paper for determining the influence of the deathratesfrom some particular diseases on the duration of life is based onsuggestions which were made in the first place by Daniel Bernoulli.Daniel Bernoulli (1766) justified inoculation. That procedure, however,spread infection, was therefore somewhat dangerous for the neighbourhoodand prohibited for some time, first in England, then in France. Referring tostatistical data, but not publishing it, Bernoulli introduced necessarily crudeparameters of smallpox epidemics and assumed that the inoculation itselfproved fatal in 0.5% of cases. He formed and solved the appropriatedifferential equation and thus showed the relation between the age, thenumber of people of the same age, and of those of them who had notcontacted smallpox. Also by means of a differential equation he derived asimilar formula for a population undergoing inoculation. It occurred thatinoculation lengthened the mean duration of life by 3 years and 2 monthsand was therefore extremely useful. Vaccination, the inestimable discoveryby Jenner, who had thereby become one of the greatest benefactors ofmankind (Laplace 1814/1995, p. 83),was introduced at the end of the 18 th century. Its magnificent final successhad not however ruled out statistical studies. Simon (1887, vol. 1, p. 230)concluded that only comprehensive national statistics could duly compare itwith inoculation.D’Alembert (1761; 1768c) criticized Daniel Bernoulli, see Todhunter(1865, pp. 265 – 271, 277 – 278 and 282 – 286). Not everyone will agree, heargued, to lengthen his mean duration of life at the expense of even a lowrisk of dying at once of inoculation; then, moral considerations were alsoinvolved, as when inoculating children. Without denying the benefits of thatprocedure, D’Alembert concluded that statistical data on smallpox should becollected, additional studies made and that the families of those dying of51

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