So, my parents have gotten into the whole “raw milk” thing, thanks to some quack doctor they went to see. Just to make sure I didn’t space out through science class all those years ago and hallucinate about the whole reason we started pasteurizing milk to begin with, I did some looking around on the Internets. This made me laugh…

Food scientists can hardly believe that so many consumers have turned their back on one of the most successful public health endeavors of the 20th century. In 1938, for example, milk caused 25 percent of all outbreaks of food- and water-related sickness.

…and it also reminded me of a recent righteous rant by Ed about an outbreak of pertussis in California, related to the trendy anti-vaccination movement.
See, there’s a part of me that appreciates this on some meta-level, the counterintuitive “victim of our own success” phenomenon. Science has done such a good job of freeing people from having to worry about dying from contaminated food and drink or formerly terrifying diseases that they’ve become complacent and ignorant, enough so to become contemptuous of their benefactor and deny that they ever needed its help in the first place. Of course, public policy deserves a lot of the credit as well, and it, too, has ironically helped breed a superbug of stupidity in the form of so many Joe Republicans, convinced that they never got nothin’ from no one and don’t see why they should have to pay taxes to help anybody else. Indeed, how sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have so many thankless, functionally retarded children.

And if you need further proof that history is not progressive but cyclical, not a steady advance of knowledge and compassion but alternating periods of high-minded cosmopolitan and knee-jerk provincial values, consider the fact that Upton Sinclair’s famous exposé The Jungle was written in 1906. What do you think the reception would be for a book like that today, 104 years later? An earnest portrayal of the hopeless plight of the working class, the corruption of unregulated business and the need for social programs, written by an unabashed !socialist!, of all things?
Progress? Age of Reason? I laugh in your face.