A Double Look at Old Research

As I’m sure you’ve read by now, I’m a history of medicine scholar.  I focus (primarily) in 18th century England – although I’ve done a fair amount of research back to the 16th century and up to the early 20th century.  This way, I can understand how my research fits in the context of the time.

Recently, I have been accepted to speak at a professional conference being held at Oxford University, UK.

I have been going over my primary presentation – the one that I have given nearly 10x, at conferences throughout he US.  I’ve taken these point by point – making sure everything I’m saying is provable.  It’s tiring and terrifying and extremely exciting all at the same time.

For the longest time, I’ve been repeating statements from a tertiary source on the writings of Hippocrates.

Hippocrates - NLM - Portrait No. 3517.20 - Public Domain.jpgS

Source: Hippocrates – NLM – Portrait No. 3517.20 – Public Domain.

Hipprocates was a Grecian physician (or school of physicians, depending on what theory you are going by), who really laid the ground work for Western Medicine.  He did this in Ancient Greece!

I finally decided to actually read what he wrote in his ‘On Medicine’.  Since I can’t read ancient Greek, I used the translation by Frances Adams, which seems to be an acceptable translation.

I don’t know where the tertiary source found the information I’ve been stating, but it’s not in there.  Maybe it’s in a different section of the book – but there is enough actual medically based information that I can speak intelligently about the treatise.  It’s not the main focus of my research, and I’m traveling across an ocean to give a 12 – 15 minute lecture on *MY* independent research.  While I always give the 30 second overview of the history of medicine – I have to remember to keep it short, and let it go.


Now, here’s the thing about panic research …. mind you, I’ve done the core research for the past 2 years, and the spiral into this core research for nearly 15 years.  But, when I’m not sure about something, I go find information and then go see if I can prove it.

While this information is not something I want to prove for this lecture, I have to say, “Galen became the personal physician to the emperorMarcus Aurelius.” is pretty darn interesting.  This is listed on: http://www.greekmedicine.net/whos_who/Galen.html.  Generally, I wouldn’t put too much stock in it… it’s not on the type of website I tend to trust.  But, if it’s true, that’s pretty darn interesting!

Another thing to keep in mind is to never judge a book by it’s cover – literally.  One of my favorite / best books to refer to is ‘The History of Medicine: Renaissance Medicine’, by Ian Dawson.  It’s a small book, hard backed like Dr. Seuss book, with thick pages filled with beautiful, glossy pictures.

Three years later, I have yet to find something in this book which is incorrect.  So, I asked myself, “Self, who is this Ian Dawson?”

Ian Dawson is a Professor of the History of Medicine at the University of Leeds, UK.  He written and/or edited over 60 textbooks, and was awarded a fellowship as one of the best 20 professors in the UK!
For more on this extraordinary professor, click here.

Well that’s my first 3 slides!  I have 14 to go. 🙂 I can’t wait to nail the heck out of this.  And, I can’t wait to bring you all with me.

If you’d like to contribute to my ‘History Has it’s Eyes on You’ fund, click here.




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