brain sizes: Einstein's and women's

Bob LeChevalier lojbab at lojban.org
Wed Aug 14 15:46:59 EST 2002


cary at afone.as.arizona.edu (Cary Kittrell) wrote:
>And smallpox, which may have killed more people in history
>than any other singles disease 

Not likely.  Probably cholera and diphtheria have killed 10 times as
many.  Diseases that favor infants with newly developed immune systems
are the worst killers.  In pre-modern times, infant mortality may have
been as high as 50%, many of them from diseases of diarrhea.  Malaria
also probably was higher frequency, but tended to be constrained to
warm climates (scientists believe that sickle cell, common in blacks,
is a genetic accommodation specifically selected to minimize death
from malaria - there is no known corresponding genetic change in an
entire population tied to smallpox).  

Smallpox was nasty because it could strike and kill adults, it was not
limited to the tropics, and there was no treatment that could help.
It may have been the biggest killer in medieval Europe, which had a
cooler climate and better sanitation than the tropical regions.  But
even then, plague was a tough competitor in the body count division
because when it came through, it decimated the population (or worse).

lojbab



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