oa Southern African Journal of Epidemiology and Infection - Six impossible things before breakfast : a lateral view

Volume 23, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1015-8782
  • E-ISSN: 2220-1084



Since the time of the first recorded medical texts, it seems to me that medicine from whatever tradition has made believing 'impossible things' one of its most important areas of practice. Of the model of medicine dominant in most of the world today I think it's fair to say that up until the 17th century this practice was indeed based on belief in the strict sense. However, with the arrival of new ways of questioning that marks this time as revolutionary to many modern thinkers, medical belief especially, began to be tested. Many beliefs were thus elevated to facts. This, however, would not have been possible without new instruments enabling new ways of seeing the human body: Vesalius used the newly secular scalpel; Harvey used the simple ligature, and a Dutch draper, one Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, used the microscope.

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