Crowding and Disease Virulence

David P. Clark

Earlier thinking held that, given time, all diseases would adapt, to become no worse than measles and mumps. Virulent diseases were newcomers, not yet adapted to a state of biological détente with their human hosts. This viewpoint sees man and his infections in a perpetual cold war, with casualties due only to occasional misunderstandings. This wishful thinking has obvious marketing appeal and still frequently appears in books and articles that popularize biology.

This scenario ignores the ugly side of both evolution and human history. The inhabitants of our history books did not merely suffer from childhood diseases while their mothers read them stories about rabbits and mice dressed in human clothes. ...

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