One of my favorite stories about societal learning relates back to the terrible cholera epidemics that started hitting London back in 1832. Without going into the details, London was the most advanced city in the world at that time. It was faced with a health emergency. So this was a pretty good test of the capacity of institutions at that time to figure out how to deal with an urgent problem. It took over 35 years to solve the problem. Pretty good for back then (because before this time, folks may never have figured it out). But looking back on this, it is pretty scary how slow the learning was. Are we faster?
To test this, we might do well to track how quickly we are able to solve problems that confront us. Here is one — we suffer from a huge array of auto.immune conditions. From allergies to multiple sclerosis. Yet doctors will admit that they really have no idea how the immune system works. How long will it take for us to figure this out?
If this topic interests you, consider this short article on the link between vitamin D levels and the progression of the dreaded autoimmune disease, MS,