Re: Memes of Ulcers and Bacteria

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Mon 17 Mar 2003 - 06:32:04 GMT

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    At 07:40 PM 16/03/03 -0500, Scott wrote:

    >>From: Keith Henson <>
    >>Date: Sun, 16 Mar 2003 14:07:13 -0500


    >>The spread of a meme (Bacteria cause most ulcers) displacing a previous
    >>one (Stress causes ulcers) is a really neat type case. It would not take
    >>a lot of work to graph the change over curves for researcher and
    >>practitioner populations. (S shaped in both cases I bet.) Since we
    >>don't need really high accuracy to resolve the displacement curve,
    >>satisfactory research for a paper on this subject could be done for a few
    >>hundred dollars or an equivalent amount of time.
    >>Any takers?
    >I don't see the necessity to couch this very important breakthrough in
    >terms of memes. It might qualify as a "paradigm shift" (uggg, I used
    >*that* nasty phrase...I'll need to take a shower now). There was
    >apparently a significant change in mindset within the medical community as
    >to how many (if not most) cases of ulcers are caused.

    It certainly was the transfer (replication) of information that caused this
    "paradigm shift" to come about. Doctors read about it and heard about it from other doctors. They changed their behavior as a result. Sure sounds like a meme to me.

    Of course you don't *have* to consider this "paradigm shift" to be the result of a meme spreading through the medical community, but is sure fits the model of a meme and the meme of "Bacteria cause most ulcers" has largely replace the previous cultural element.

    >If memory serves, one of my good friends was slated for major surgery on
    >some portion his digestive tract and lucked out in that a doctor
    >considered the *H. pylori* angle. After some antibiotics (versus the
    >surgical alternative) all was well with his life.

    Good thing for your friend that the meme got to his doctor before they started cutting.

    Friend of mine was diagnosed many years ago with ulcers. He lived with them for a year or two. Then he got in some accident that had bones sticking out of his skin and was put on heavy antibiotics for a while. Sure enough, his ulcers vanished.

    Keith Henson

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