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Open Letter to Nature_Part XLVII_The Hanly War (VIII): The Genuine Quack_1 (2243 查看)

February 25, 2015 02:18PM
【The full-length article, including the notes, is attached as a PDF file.】

Shamelessness Shouldn’t Be Anyone’s Nature
──An Open Letter to Nature (Part XLVII)

Xin Ge, Ph. D.

Columbia, SC, USA

The Hanly War (VIII): The Genuine Quack


On Feb. 10, 2012, Fang Zhouzi published an article entitled A Dispute Caused by a Parasite in Xinhua Daily Telegraph, trying to “scientifically” depict Han Han as a liar by citing “many physicians,” and attempting to “historically” decorate himself as a science hero by telling the historical story of identifying the cause of scabies. It turns out that Fang’s article was stolen from a paper published in 1998 by a Brazilian dermatologist, and along with the stealing, Fang copied numerous historical factual mistakes, among which the biggest one is that the discovery made by Italian physician Bonomo and naturalist Cestoni in 1687 was forgotten for about 150 years before it was rediscovered in the 19th century. In this part of the Open Letter to Nature, evidences are present to set the historical record straight, and demonstrate Fang’s shameless and malicious plagiarism.


Arousal of Suspicion

1. Fang’s Medical Knowledge
2. Fang’s Medical History

(1) The Pre-Bonomo Era
(2) Bonomo vs. Cestoni
(3) The Post-Bonomo Era
(4) Conclusions

The Transcontinental Thievery

1. The Italian Connection
Appendix: Comparison between the papers by Montesu & Cottoni and Ramos-e-Silva
2. Lost in Translation
3. The Believers of Conflict Thesis
4. The Chinese Scifool Writer Was Fooled by the Brazilian Dermatologist

(1) Confused by Insertion
(2) Hebra’s Eulogy of Bonomo and Cestoni
(3) Hebra’s “Self-experiments”
(4) Hebra’s Ultimate “Settlement”


Appendix: Fang’s A Dispute Caused by a Parasite and his sources of stealing


As mentioned in the previous part of the Open Letter to Nature[1], Fang’s attempt to deprive Han Han’s authorship of his essay, Seeing a Doctor, failed miserably. On the contrary, and as the consequence, the fraudulent and evil tactics Fang had been using against his targets up to that time, as well as his own dirty plagiarist history, became known to more and more people. To salvage himself from the disaster, Fang plotted and implemented a series of actions, and one of them was an article he published in his weekly column in Xinhua Daily Telegraph, entitled A Dispute Caused by a Parasite. Here is its abstract:

“Scabies is caused by scabies bug which parasitizes in human body, the scabies bug drills into the skin, making tunnels while walking inside, and laying eggs, which induces allergic reactions, resulting in skin rash and itching. Bonomo has been considered in the medical history the first person who ever identified the pathogen of a disease, and by that time, more than 150 years had passed since his great discovery.”[2]

And here is his opening paragraph:

“In recent days, because of the controversy about whether Han Han’s articles were ghostwritten, an infectious skin disease became well-known on Weibo and forums on the internet. It is said that one of the essays Han Han submitted to the inaugural New Concept Writing Competition, Seeing a Doctor, was based on his personal experience with seeing a doctor for the treatment of the scabies he got in his school. However, after reading the essay, many physicians unanimously believe that the symptom described in the essay is not scabies. Scabies is caused by scabies bug which parasitizes in human body, the scabies bug drills into the skin, making tunnels while walking inside, and laying eggs, which induces allergic reactions, resulting in skin rash and itching. The itching caused by scabies is limited to special areas such as hands, wrists, abdomen, genitals, and there will be skin damages in the itching areas, including rashes, small blisters, or scabs. Therefore, it is very easy to pinpoint where the itching is located, rather than like what was described in the essay that the patient was unable to tell his doctor where the itching was, and once the itching started, it occurred everywhere. The skin itch described in Seeing a Doctor is caused by other factors, such as hepatitis.” (See the appended table at the end of the article for the original Chinese. Hereinafter the same.)

The mouthpiece of the mouthpiece
The screenshot of the top portion of Fang’s malicious and fraudulent article, A Dispute Caused by a Parasite, on xinhuanet.com, the official website of the Xinhua News Agency.

Of course Fang was lying: till this day, more than three years later, Fang is still unable to reveal the identity of a single one of his “many physicians.” On the contrary, it has been demonstrated[1] that some of his so called “physicians” are genuine quacks; and Fang’s assertions that “the itching caused by scabies is limited to special areas,” and “it is very easy to pinpoint where the itching is located,” were based purely on his ignorance and evilness.

Admittedly, the abstract and the first paragraph were the only places where Fang mentioned Han Han and talked about his “dispute” with Han Han. Fang used the rest part of the article to tell the history of identifying the cause of scabies, trying to illustrate his final point:

“It is very difficult to change people’s traditional thinking. Even such a simple scientific discovery needed such a long time to be recognized, let alone the more complicated controversies.”

Fang’s true intention for writing the article was exposed by a blogger, Mr. Wang Yamin (汪亚民), one week after Fang posted the article on his Weibo. Mr. Wang’s article is entitled There Are Two Kinds of Sciences: One is Science, the other is Fang’s Science, and here are the key paragraphs in the article:

“Fang Zhouzi has published a ‘science popularization’ article in Xinhua Daily Telegraph, A Dispute Caused by a Parasite. I have read and analyzed the ‘science popularization’ article carefully, and found that the article actually has little to do with science popularization. Doing science popularization is Fang’s disguise; what he really does is to fabricate evidence in the name of ‘science popularization.’ His real purpose [for writing the article] is to demonstrate his unreliable and unconvincing argument that Han Han’s Seeing a Doctor was ghostwritten.”[3]

“On the surface, Fang’s so called ‘science popularization’ article, which contains about 1,800 characters, introduces the disease of scabies and the history of the discovery of its causing agent; however, it is not difficult for a careful reader to discover that the article has two focal points: the first one is to demonstrate, via the so called ‘science popularization,’ that the systemic itching symptom Han Han described in Seeing a Doctor was not caused by scabies, but by hepatitis.”[4]

“The second focal point is to attempt to demonstrate, by digging into the history of science and technology and by using the historical facts that it is very difficult to change people’s stereotype, that it will take a long time for people to accept his questioning of Han Han. In other words, Fang is trying to build a refuge of ‘science’ for his failed attempt to topple Han Han; and his first step is to dress himself up as the representative of science and the incarnation of Mr. Always Right.”[5]

Alternative Science
Many Chinese people have already realized that the “science” Fang Zhouzi has been “standing up for” is not the science as defined by dictionaries and acknowledged by the scientific community in the world; rather, it is a malpractice called “Fang’s science.” The above image is the screenshot of the title portion of Mr. Wang Yamin’s blog article on sina.com: There Are Two Kinds of Sciences: One is Science, the other is Fang’s Science.

The fact is, most, if not all, of Fang’s scifool articles have been written for the two purposes and the two purposes only: promote his hidden agenda, and attack his personal enemies. Also, as having been demonstrated repeatedly before, the majority of Fang’s scifool articles are plagiarism. And this article of Fang’s is no exception at all: besides using a public platform to advance his private and malicious desire to assassinate Han Han’s character, and besides doing evil in the name of science popularization, Fang wrote the entire article, barring the first and last paragraphs, by stealing. Unfortunately, what Fang stole seems to be a secondhand also, therefore Fang’s article is full of factual yet stupid mistakes.

So, what kind of mistakes Fang made in his article? How did he make these mistakes? Who was Fang’s victim? In this part of the Open Letter to Nature, these questions will be answered.

Arousal of Suspicion

Many of Fang’s plagiarism cases were discovered from noticing the obvious mistakes he made in his articles. A perfect example is the so called “Longevity Case” in which Fang plagiarized Dr. Robert Arking of the Wayne State University to write his Eat Less, Live Longer in 2002, and then republished it for at least 5 more times in 10 years. The discovery of case actually started from the ten mistakes Fang made in the first paragraph, which contains only 250 Chinese characters, in his newest version of the article, and after being accused of plagiarism, Fang made a counter accusation against a professor at Peking University, claiming that he was actually a victim instead of a thief, and at the same time, Fang revealed his self-plagiarism. Based on these clues, I finally identified the sources of Fang’s stealing[6]. Similarly, the suspicion that Fang might have committed plagiarism in his A Dispute Caused by a Parasite was aroused also by the stupid mistakes he made.

1. Fang’s Medical Knowledge

Here is the third paragraph of Fang’s article:

“The scabies bug is very small, its body length is less than 1 millimeter, hardly visible with naked eyes, but some careful ancient physicians were still able to see the tiny bug in the blisters of the scabies patients. However, these physicians didn’t conjecture naturally that the tiny bug is the causing agent of the disease; rather, they thought the bug was generated from the corrupted flesh caused by the scabies.”

First of all, it seemed that Fang didn’t know the fact that the parasite which causes scabies is a mite, a small arthropod belonging to the class Arachnida, which differs from class Insecta, so in the article Fang used the term “疥虫” (jiè chóng, “scabies bug” or “scabies insect”) 16 times, but he didn’t used the term “螨” (mǎn, mite) even once.

In Chinese, 虫 (chóng) is both a generic term for bugs or worms, and a specific term for insects; 螨 (mǎn) is the specific term for mites. The above images show the two characters in the small seal script. Please note that the character 螨uses character 虫as its radical.

Secondly, it seemed that Fang had absolutely no idea about the size of the itch mite, because any scientific or medical literature will tell you that the size of scabies mite is much less than 1 millimeter. For example, a book published in 1910 says:

“The female mite is the one which invades the integument, the male never being found in the cutaneous tissue, ……It is observed that the male is much smaller than the female; the latter is about 1/70 of an inch long, and1/3 less in width.”[7]

The above statement is virtually reaffirmed a century later:

“The adult female is approximately 0.3 to 0.5 mm long by 0.3 mm wide, and the male is slightly smaller, around 0.25 mm long by 0.2 mm wide.”[8]

“The mature female mite is approximately 400 m in length and approximately 325 m in width, while the mature male mite is approximately 60% of the female size.”[9]

“Females are 0.30 to 0.45 mm long and 0.25 to 0.35 mm wide, and males are slightly more than half that size.”[10]

Therefore, by saying that the itch mite is “less than 1 millimeter,” Fang actually magnified the size of the mite by 2-3 folds. The funny thing is, in a few months, Fang would launch a new campaign questioning Han Han’s height, arguing that Han Han is actually a few centimeters shorter than what he had claimed, which, according to Fang, suggests that Han Han is a habitual liar (more on this in the next part of the Open Letter).

Thirdly, by saying that a matter less than 1 millimeter long is hardly visible with naked eyes, Fang revealed that he had no idea about the visibility of naked eyes. Here is a passage from Wikipedia:

“At a viewing distance of 16" = ~ 400 mm, which is considered a normal reading distance in the USA, the smallest object resolution will be ~ 0.116 mm. For inspection purposes laboratories use a viewing distance of 200–250 mm, which gives the smallest size of the object recognizable to the naked eye of ~0.058- 0.072 mm(~55-75 micrometer).”[11]

Habitual and selective blindness
Fang Zhouzi, the self-claimed most popular science popularization writer in China, believes that a subject less than 1 millimeter long is hardly visible with naked eyes. The diagram shows the sizes of millimeters.
(Source of the image: http://www.cancer.gov/dictionary.)

Fourthly, by saying “some careful ancient physicians were still able to see the tiny bug in the blisters of the scabies patients,” Fang revealed that he didn’t know the fact that the “scabies bug” does not exist in the blisters which are actually the result of the allergic reaction caused by the infestation of the mite. As a matter of fact, the very cause of the “dispute” about the etiological discovery of the scabies is this misperception. So you know how ironic it is for Fang to write the article to popularize this piece of medical history.

Scabies: the cause and effect
Upper left: the scanning electron micrograph of a scabies mite; Upper right: the allergic blisters caused by itch mite infestation, the blisters contain no scabies mites; Lower: the scabies burrow in which the female mite lives. (Source of the images: WebMD. Scabies Slideshow: Symptoms, Cause, and Treatments; Scabies Pictures Slideshow: Stop the Itch Mite.)

Finally, by blaming those “careful ancient physicians” who were able to see the tiny bug in the scabies patients but were unable to “conjecture naturally that the tiny bug is the causing agent of the disease,” Fang, a self-identified “biomedical expert,” revealed that he was completely unaware of Koch's postulates, which stipulates how to identify the causing agent of a disease. Simply speaking, according to the postulates, one has to isolate the agent from the patient, and inoculate the agent on to healthy people to re-produce the same disease to establish a causative relationship. In other words, a simple physical association of a bug with a disease is far from enough to “conjecture naturally” their etiological relationship.

2. Fang’s Medical History

In 2000, Fang Zhouzi told Dr. Liu Huajie of Peking University that he had been always interested in the history and philosophy of science; and what he wanted to do the most was to “reflect on the history, method, and thought of biology.”[12] One year later, Fang told his future wife Liu Juhua the following:

“Academically, I am more interested in exploring the issues in the philosophy and the history of science.”[13]

Fang’s first mission of exploration in the philosophy of science was accomplished by stealing Dr. Robert Root-Bernstein’s paper to write his What is Science in 1995[14]. Similarly, Fang’s numerous explorations in the history of science were made by directly translating other people’s English articles and then hiding his sources[15]. Apparently, A Dispute Caused by a Parasite was Fang’s another “exploration” in the history of science - Yes, Fang does believe that medicine is a science.

According to Fang, the story about the discovery of scabies’ cause is like the following:

① Before Italian physician Giovan Cosimo Bonomo, people believed in the spontaneous generation theory and the humoral original of scabies;

② It was Bonomo who first discovered that scabies is caused by the itch bug;

③ Because of being subdued by the religious force, Bonomo’s discovery was completely forgotten for more than 150 years;

④ It wasn’t until 1844 when Bonomo’s discovery was rediscovered by Austrian physician Ferdinand Hebra.

The fact is, what Fang said above is nothing but nonsense.

(1) The Pre-Bonomo Era

As having been documented extensively, before Bonomo’s discovery, many people, including Chinese and Arabians, as well as Europeans, had discovered the association of a small bug with scabies. For example, a Chinese medical book written in 610 AD has the following passage:

“The wet scabies causes small sores with thin cuticle, from which fluids often come out. The small sores all have worms. People usually use a needle point to extract the worms, which look like pathogenic worms in water.”[16]

The above record was introduced to the English world no later than 1956:

“With regard to Sarcoptes scabiei there are a number of statements in Chinese medical literature about minute ‘worms’ in the skin which can be removed with the point of a needle. The earliest mention of these small ‘worms’ as far as the writer is aware, is that by Ch'ao Yuan-fang (610) in Ch'ao shih chu ping yuan hou tsung lun, Ch'ao's General Treatise on the Aetiology and Symptoms of Diseases. In those publications in which Chinese authors mention small worms in scabies they are not regarded as causative agents but rather as a result of the disease in the same way as early European writers did. The advice given by some authors to remove the minute worms with a needle indicates, however, that although the mite may not have been regarded as the direct cause of scabies, its presence was evidently believed to be harmful so that its removal seemed desirable.”[17]

For the record - No. 1
The above image is the page of the Treatise on the Origins and Manifestations of Various Diseases (诸病源候论, zhū bìng yuán hòu lùn) by Chao Yuanfang (ca. 550-630), the words highlighted with red sidelines are translated above. It is probably the oldest medical book in the world which associates scabies with an animal.

About 400 years after China’s Chao Yuanfang, an Arabian physician named Abu-l-Hasan Ahmad ibn Mohammad al-Tabari wrote:

“This animacule can be removed with the point of a needle. If placed on the nail and exposed to the heat of the sun or fire, it moves. If the animacule is crushed between the fingernails, one hears it crack. This type of scabies is most easily cured ... by administering laxatives and the killing of the animals.”[18]

It took about another two centuries for the Europeans, especially Saint Hildegard in her book Physika written in the 12th century, to link the little animal with scabies[19].

Although these earlier people didn’t propose the hypothesis that the worm is the cause of scabies, such an idea had been slowly evolving right before Bonomo made his discovery. Guy de Chauliac (c. 1300 - 1368), a French physician, not only could find the itch mite, he also realized the contagiousness of the disease[20]. In the 16th century, another French physician, Ambroise Paré (c. 1510 - 1590), wrote:

“The mites are little animals, always hidden under the skin, there they crawl and gnaw the skin, little by little, exciting a disagreeable itching. They can be extracted with pins or needles.”[21]

In 1634, a book by Thomas Mouffet (1553-1604) was published in London, in which it says:

“It is strange how such a little animal with almost no feet can drive such a long burrow under the skin. Moreover, it is to be noted that these mites do not lie in the pustules themselves, but near them.”[22]

Austrian physician Ferdinand Hebra (1816-1880) believed that these sentences “show that he had himself looked for the acarus scabiei, and had been successful in finding it.”[23] Hungarian dermatologist Moriz Kaposi (1837-1902) praised Mouffet’s description of the mite as “accurate.”[24]

For the record - No. 2
The 16th century Englishman Thomas Mouffet not only saw the itch mite, he also knew where to find it.

In 1612, a dictionary edited by the Accademici della Crusca defined “pellicello,” an Italian term for scabies, as the following:

“Pellicello è un picciolissimo bacolino, ilquale si genera a’rognosi, in pelle in pelle, e, rodendo, cagiona un'acutissimo pizzicóre.”[25]

Here is the comment on the entry by Hebra:

“The point of interest in this sentence is that the writer evidently recognised the acarus as the cause of scabies; whereas his contemporaries imagined that its presence in patients affected with the disease was merely accidental.”[26]

For the record - No. 3
The term “pellicello” was explained as being caused by the biting of the itch mite in Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca, published in 1612 in Florence, Italy.

Bonomo, in his letter to Redi in which he described his discovery, actually acknowledged that his first knowledge of scabies was from the dictionary:

“Mentre dunque tutto attento mi trattengo in questa curiosa, e dilettevole applicazione, e distendone in carta il da me Osservato, per poterlo un giorno comunicare al pubblico del Mondo, se non con gentilezza di stile, almeno con pura, semplice, e schiettissima verità, mi è venuto casualmente, e per fortuna letto nel famoso Vocabolario dell'Accademia della Crusca, che i Compilatori di esso affermano, che i Pellicelli, de' quali per lo più è gremita internamente la pelle di coloro, che hanno la rogna, sieno altrettanti piccolissimi Animaletti; e quest'esse sono le parole del medesimo Vocabolario. Pellicello è un piccolissimo Bacolino, il quale si genera a' Rognosi in pelle in pelle, e rodendo cagiona un'acutissimo pizzicore.”[27]

Apparently based upon the fact, as well as the common practice among the poor Italians who tried to cure scabies by removing the mites with a needle, that Redi refused to acknowledge the originality of Bonomo’s discovery[28].

Besides the dictionary, Bonomo also acknowledged the following fact to Redi:

“Quest'opinione, come poi ho veduto, fu seguita da Giuseppe Laurenzio nella sua Amaltea avendovi scritto.”[27]

which appears to be the source of the following statement by Dr. B. Barker Beeson:

“Joseph Lorenzo, in his ‘Almanthea,’ recognized Acarus as the cause of scabies.”[21]

It is generally acknowledged that August Hauptmann (1607-1674) was the first person who drew the image of itch mite, and the drawing was significantly improved 25 years later by his countryman Michael Ettmüller (1644-1683)[21, 29].

Flemish chemist Jan Baptist van Helmont (1577-1644) described how he contacted scabies by shaking hands with a lady, and his physician failed to cure his disease based on Galen’s humoral theory of the disease, and then he, by using the empiricism method, eliminated the possibility that the disease was caused by humoral or internal factors, and he finally cured himself by external application of a sulphur ointment[30].

In other words, the major components of Bonomo’s discovery, i. e. the claim that the mite is the sole cause of the scabies, the drawing of the microscopic image of the mite, and the suggestion for external treatment of the disease, had already been in existence before Bonomo discovered them.

(2) Bonomo vs. Cestoni

According to Fang, not only did Bonomo make the original discovery, he also made the discovery alone, the role played by Diacinto Cestoni, a pharmacist, in the discovery was merely accessory.

The fact is, the important and indispensable contribution by Cestoni to the discovery was acknowledged right in Bonomo’s letter to Redi, in which the discovery was first announced to the world[27]. Further, since its “re-discovery” in the 19th century, most historians of medicine, if not all of them, recognized Cestoni’s role played in the discovery. Here is what was written by the great French physician Pierre François Rayer (1793-1867) in a book its English translation was published in 1833:

“The letter of Giovanni Cosmo Bonomo, relating the experiments of Hyacinthe Cestoni, printed in several modern works, is too interesting in the history of science to be passed over.”[31]

Here is what was written by Dr. Hebra in a book its English translation was published in 1868:

“In the seventeenth century the most complete investigations with reference to the acarus scabiei and its relation to the itch were those of Giovanni Cosimo Bonomo, a physician, and Diacinto Cestoni, an apothecary, at Leghorn.”[32]

Here is what was written by Hungarian Dr. Moriz Kaposi in a book its English translation was published in 1895:

“In 1687 Bonomo and Cestoni gave accurate descriptions and drawings of the acarus and its ova; stated that the acari were of both sexes, and that they were the sole cause of itch.”[24]

In 1932, Dr. Ugo Faucci, an Italian historian of medicine, published a monograph entitled Contributo alla storia della scabbia, in which he stated that “probably the naturalistic study of the acarus is due to Cestoni, a very clever researcher, while Bonomo, a very keen naval physician, is responsible for the observations regarding to the external cure of scabies.”[33] Despite this, Faucci concluded:

“……as the proofs that would better permit us to ascertain the truth are wanting, the discovery of the parasite nature of the itch must be attributed to Bonomo and Cestoni together.”[34]

Faucci’s conclusion has been generally accepted, of course with a couple of exceptions including Fang Zhouzi. In 1989, a review published in Annual Review of Entomology says:

“The Italians Giovanni Cosimo Bonomo and Diancinto Cestoni first described and illustrated the mite in 1689 in a now-famous letter to Francesco Redi.”[35]

In 1991, a pair of Italian scholar published a paper entitled “G.C. Bonomo and D. Cestoni. Discoverers of the parasitic origin of scabies.[36]

In 2006, a paper published in Lancet says:

“In 1687, the Italian physician Giovan Cosimo Bonomo and the apothecary Diacinto Cestoni described the causal relation between the scabies mite and the typical skin lesions seen after infestation. They showed for the first time that a disease can be caused by a microorganism.”[37]

In 2011, another paper published in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences says:

“In the 17th century, Hauptman produced imperfect drawings of the mite, followed by Giovanni Cosimo Bonomo, an Italian naval physician, who with Diacinto Cestoni, a pharmacist, studied the condition in sailors and provided a more accurate drawing of the acarus mite in 1687, thus discovering and establishing the parasitic nature of scabies as well as its treatment.”[38]

The fact is, Cestoni was a well-known and well-respected naturalist, it was said that Redi had said of Cestoni: "He is a chemist, but he knows more than 40 physicians."[39] Actually, one and a half months before Bonomo sent the letter to Redi, Redi wrote in a letter saying that Cestoni was the only person who observed the scabies mite[40]. On the other hand, even today, little about Bonomo, except for he was 24 years old when he communicated his discovery to Redi, is known[41]. It appears that it was Cestoni who introduced Bonomo to Redi, and with Redi’s recommendation, Bonomo got his job as a naval physician[42].

(3) The Post-Bonomo Era

According to Fang’s story, Bonomo’s discovery “was not mentioned by any other people and forgotten” until 1844, when the Austrian physician Ferdinand Hebra eulogized him, along with Cestoni, and Hebra’s eulogy made their names recognized in the history of medicine. The fact is, nothing could be further from the truth than Fang’s story. Here is what was written by Hebra:

“Lucas Tozzius, Lanzoni, and Richard Mead remain to be mentioned as having translated, and commented on, the works of Cestoni and Bonomo, and as having thereby aided in diffusing more widely a knowledge of the important facts contained in their writings.”[43]

I couldn’t find any information about the translation of or comment on Bonomo’s letter to Redi by Lucas Tozzius. However, it is widely known that Bonomo’s letter was translated in its entirety into Latin by Lanzoni in 1692[44], and partially into English by Richard Mead (1673-1754) in 1703[45].

For the record - No. 4
Bonomo’s letter to Redi was translated completely into Latin by Josepho Lanzono and the translation was published in a book in 1692.

For the record - No. 5
Richard Mead’s partial English translation of Bonomo’s letter to Redi made the discovery known to the English world.

The fact is, because of his prominent status - Dr. Mead was admitted to the Royal Society of London in 1703 and appointed the physician to George II in 1727[46] -, and his constant effort - he repeatedly mentioned the Italian discovery in his works[47] -, Mead almost single-handedly made Bonomo’s discovery known to every English physician. For example, in 1752, Sir John Pringle (1707-1782), the “father of military medicine,” published his celebrated Observations on the Diseases of the Army in Camp and Garrison, in which he was not aware of the parasitic nature of scabies at all. However, when the book went to reprint the next year, Dr. Pringle especially added the following note:

“Since the first edition was published, I have seen a paper in the Phil. Transact. for the year 1703, called, An abstract of a letter from Dr. Bonomo to Sigmor Redi, containing some observations concerning the worms of humane bodies, by Dr. Richard Mead. By which account I find, that Dr. Bonomo was the first that discovered these animalcula, and likewise proposed curing the itch by externals only.”[48]

Dr. John Hunter (1728-1793), another eminent British physician, told the following story in his Lectures on the Principle of Surgery:

“The disease has been said to arise from animalculae; but these, if present, are, I am sure, unnecessary for the existence of the disease, as I have often examined the matter and found no animals in it; yet they may sometimes be in the matter. I forget who was telling me lately that Dr. Teigh had shown them to be, not in the pustule, but in the skin near it, as little black specks.”[49]

In other words, whether people believed it or not, they were aware of the theory proposed by Bonomo and Cestoni. Apparently because of this, in 1755, when Samuel Johnson’s influential A Dictionary of the English Language was published, the word “itch” was defined as the following:

“a cutaneous disease extremely contagious, which overspreads the body with small pustules filled with thin serum, and raised, as microscopes have discovered, by a small animal. It is cured by sulphur.”[50]

And by 1788, The London Medical Journal proclaimed:

“THAT the itch is simply a local affection of the skin, occasioned by animalcula, has been a pretty general opinion in this country, since the description given by the late Dr. Mead of the insect found in this disease by Bonomo.”[51]

For the record - No. 6
By 1788, Bonomo and Cestoni’s theory had already become “a pretty generally accepted opinion” in the Great Britain.

As a matter of fact, in 1801, Dr. Joseph Adams (1756-1818), yet another renowned British physician, inoculated the itch mites on himself, and described the symptom he suffered from the inoculation. Of course he was aware of the work by Bonomo, saying: “Bonomo was tolerably exact in his description.”[52]

The Great Britain was not the only place where Bonomo’s discovery was widely known. In 1722, German physician Augustus Quirinus Rivinus (1652-1723) and Johann Jacob Schwiebe published a booklet entitled Dissertatio Inauguralis De Pruritu Exanthematum Ab Acaris, in which although they didn’t mention Bonomo or Cestoni’s name, they drawings were partially based on the observation made by the latter, according to Hebra[53]. In 1786, another German physician Johann Ernst Wichmann (1740-1802) published his book, Aetiologie der Krätze, in which he not only repeatedly referred the letter and compared Bonomo’s drawing of the itch mite with his own, he went so far as to translate the letter, from Mead’s English translation, into German[54]. Here is his summary of his own work:

“I hope I have now thoroughly explained and proved the etiology of scabies, or at least rendered it both plausible and logical that it is a simple skin disease caused by mites.”[55]

For the record - No. 7
In a book published in 1786, German physician Johann Ernst Wichmann not only introduced his etiological study on scabies, he also translated Richard Mead’s English translation of Bonomo’s letter to Redi into German.

Here is the comment on his work by Hebra:

“……his knowledge of the disease was so complete, that in this respect he has been surpassed by none of his predecessors, and by few even of those who have followed him. He was perfectly acquainted with the burrows made by the itch-mite, and with the papules (Efflorescenzen) near which young acari are to be found; and he describes exactly how to extract the animal from these different places with the point of a needle or penknife.”[56]

Beeson’s praise of Wichmann was not a bit less lavish than Hebra’s:

“Wichman's booklet, ‘Etiology of the Itch’, which was printed at Hanover in 1786, was a most important factor in spreading the belief that the itch was due to Acarus. This work was not surpassed by those preceding it, and has been surpassed by few since that time. Wichman recognized the importance of the burrow, as well as of the tiny elevations near which the larvae were found. He also knew how to extract the mite on a knife or needle point.”[21]

Besides Great Britain and Germany, Bonomo and Cestoni’s theory was warmly received in Sweden also. In 1746, the eminent Swede Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) named the itch mite acaru humanu subcutaneous[57]. 11 years later, one of Linnaeus’ students claimed in his thesis, correctly, that the itch mite doesn’t exist in the pustules, rather, it could be found in “a wrinkling of the skin which proceeds from the pustule.”[21] In 1778, the book Memoires pour servir à l'histoire des Insectes (Vol. VII) by another great Swede, Baron Charles de Geer (1720-1778), was published posthumously, in which the author wrote explicitly:

"Dans les ulceres produits par la gale sur les mains & les autres parties du corps humain, on trouve de trèspetits Insectes du genre des Mittes & qui n'ont pas été inconnus aux naturalistes; ces Mittes sont même l'unique cause de cette vilaine maladie.”[58]

For the record - No. 8
In a book published posthumously in 1778, Baron Charles de Geer stated explicitly that many naturalists at the time were aware the fact or theory that the itch mite is the sole cause of scabies.

Were Linnaeus and his Swedish comrades aware of or influenced by Bonomo’s discovery? Of course. In 1768, Swedish physician Nils Rosén von Rosenstein (1706-1773) mentioned Bonomo’s name in a book[59]. Ten years later, in his another book, not only was Bonomo’s name mentioned, the Latin translation of his letter to Redi was also referred[60]. According to French scientist François-Vincent Raspail, “Linnaus himself founded his specific distinctions on the figures of Bonomo.”[61]

However, Bonomo’s seed bore the biggest fruit in France. According to Beeson[21], French physician Anne-Charles Lorry (1726-1783) referred Bonomo’s letter to Redi in a book published in 1777. In 1804, a book by Italian physician Valérian Louis Brera (1772-1840) was translated into French and published in Paris, in which, Bonomo’s discovery was mentioned[62].

In 1812, French medical student Jean-Chrysanthe Galès, encouraged and advised by the prominent dermatologist Jean-Louis-Marc Alibert (1768-1837), announced that he had found itch mite in the fluid from the vesicle on the scabies patients[63]. However, the significance of his thesis is not what he discovered in the scabies patients, but what he discovered in the ancient literature: in his thesis, which consists of only 55 pages, Galès used 6 pages for the French translation of “Cestoni’s letter to Redi” - Yes, that was what he called the famous letter -, apparently made by himself from Lanzono’s Latin translation, and he praised Cestoni’s investigation wholeheartedly:

“C'est dans les ouvrages de Redi que l'insecte de la gale humaine se trouve, pour la première fois, observé et décrit avec une exactitude presque égale à celle des modernes entomologistes. Ces observations sont consignées dans une lettre que ce savant naturaliste a publiée comme lui ayant été adressée par le docteur Bonomo, et qui a été depuis réclamée par Cestoni, qui en est le véritable auteur.”[64]

“Dans la suite de la lettre, Cestoni conclut, contre l'opinion des anciens et celle qui dominait de son temps, que le ciron de la gale en est la véritable cause; ce qu'il prouve, tant par l'explication satisfaisante et facile que cette cause fournit de tous les phénomènes de la maladie, que par la nature du seul traitement efficace qu'on puisse employer. L'oubli dans lequel la dissertation de Cestoni est restée pendant quelque temps, et le peu d'influence qu'élle eut d'abord, sont un exemple de la peine que les observations les plus exactes et les plus concluantes en médecine avaient alors à prévaloir sur les opinions et les pratiques accréditées.”[65]

“Les preuves les plus concluantes de l'étiologie de la gale sont pour le fond renfermées dans la lettre de Cesloni à Redi,que j'ai déjà citée en grande partie. (Voy. p. 12.) La justice, non moins que la nature de mon sujet,m'impose l'obligation de faire connaître le reste de celle lettre: je la reprends où je l'ai interrompue.”[66]

“Les raisonnemens de Cestoni, l'explication qu'il donne de tous les effets de la gale, examinés murement et sans prévention, doivent, il me semble, paraître suffisans pour établir l'étiologie de celle affection aussi clairement que celle de la maladie la mieux connue.”[67]

Here is what being said of his thesis by an English introduction:

“Moufet was the first naturalist who mentions the animalcules which breed in the human skin; but that it was in a letter from Cestoni to Redi, and published in the works of the latter, that the animal which is imagined to produce the itch was, ‘for the first time, observed and described with an accuracy almost equal to that of the modern entomologists.’ The insect was said to be of the genus acarus; and Cestoni positively asserts that it is the true source of the disease. This letter of Cestoni seems, however, to have fallen into complete oblivion, and to have had little or no influence on the opinions of his successors.”[68]

Of course the so called “oblivion” or “little or no influence” was the result of language barriers and poor information dissemination on one hand, and the key mistake “in a letter from Cestoni to Redi”on the other. And the objective of Galès’ study was “to ascertain the real fact, with the respect both to the existence and the nature of the animal and to its power of generating the malady.”[68]

For the record - No. 9
Bonomo’s letter to Redi served as the very foundation of the French medical degree thesis by Jean-Chrysanthe Galès, whose work initiated the new interest in the etiology of scabies in Western Europe.

Galès triumphed in his mission, though his glory soon turned into disgrace, because no one else, from Florence to Paris, either the believers or the sceptics, was able to repeat what he claimed: found the itch mite in the vesicles on the itching skin. The controversy was so big that it drew the attention from the watchful eyes across the English Channel: in an article published in the Lancet in 1827, there was the following passage:

“Alibert has carefully examined many scabious patients, and declares he could never find any sarcoptes or acari; and Biett, who is a very careful and reflecting man, Las examined a large number of patients with the person employed by Gales to draw the insects, but they could never discover any in the vesicles under any circumstances. The painter afterwards owned to Biett that he had never seen any one of the insects in the itch vesicles or pustules, but always outside them. Lugot [sic] continued these investigations in 1819, 1820, and 1821, with the strongest lens, but with the same result as the preceding. This is strong authority against the vital itch, and goes a great way to upset the force of the observations of Gales and the others.”[69]

Even so, Galès’ advisor Alibert never wavered in his belief in either Bonomo’s discovery or his student’s rediscovery. In a book published in 1832, Alibert wrote:

“C'est Bonomo qui a véritablement découvert des insectes dans les pustules de la gale; et il faut, à juste titre, compter cette époque pour en lire la première description positive, où non seulement le genre des insectes est mis hors de doute, mais où ils sont décrits aussi clairement, rendus aussi évidens, et même déja représentés aussi exactement d'après nature qu'on les trouve encore aujourd'hui par le secours des plus forts microscopes. On sait qu'il communiqua ses Observations à Redi, dans une lettre écrite en italien, et publiée à Florence en 1683. (Osservazioni in torno a pelli celli del corpo umano, dal G. Cos. Bonomo, e da lui con altre osservazioni scritte in una lettera all Fr. Redi.) On ne saurait donc ranger ces animalcules parmi les êtres fabuleux, tels que les crinons, les furies infernales, etc. Aussi le célèbre Richard Méad donna beaucoup d'importance à cette découverte en Angleterre 1.”[70]

In 1828, Professor Lugol offered 300 francs to the first person who would demonstrate in front of him how to extract the mite from the scabies patients. Six years later, Simon François Renucci, an Italian medical student at the French Hospital St. Louis, accomplished the mission: the story was told vividly and in great detail by the Lancet, again. So, what was the key to Renucci’s success, or other people’s failure? Here it is:

“According to M. Renucci, the acarus, or itch ciron, is never to be found in the vesicle. It appears, however, that M. Gerdy junior has in two cases extracted the insect from the vesicle, in which situation it has occasionally but very rarely been found by others. In the great majority of cases the acarus is only to be met with in a small epidermic canal, probably excavated by itself, invariably terminated by one of its extremities in the vesicle, either straight or tortuous, and varying in length from one to three lines. The raised epidermis forming the vault of that canal, presents a grayish yellow dull aspect, which is interrupted most generally towards its non-vesicular extremity, by a dull white opaque speck, betraying the position of the insect, and owing the difference of its hue to the same cause. This extra-vesicular position, combined with the minuteness of the insect, partly explains the fruitlessness of past researches.”[71]

Right after Renucci’s demonstration, Albin Gras, a student at the Hospital St. Louis, conducted a series of self-experiments to demonstrate, successfully, that the mite is the cause of scabies[72]. Not only that, Gras also translated Bonomo’s letter to Redi from Latin to French in his paper.

For the record - No. 10
In 1834, Bonomo’s letter to Redi was translated into French again by Albin Gras in his self-experiment report on scabies.

(4) Conclusions

So, what conclusion could be drawn from the above historical facts?

First of all, it is very clear that the discovery made by Bonomo and Cestoni had never been forgotten, let alone completely forgotten, in the years following its publication in 1687. On the contrary, the discovery had been serving as a candle, or beacon, in the darkness to guide the etiological exploration of the disease by the European researchers in the entire 18th century and the early one third of the 19th century.

Forgotten completely? Nonsense!
Bonomo’s letter to Redi was published in 1687 in Florence, Italy. Five years later, the complete letter was translated into Latin by Josepho Lanzono and published by Noribergæ. In 1703, the abridged English translation of the letter, by Richard Mead, was published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. In 1786, Johann Ernst Wichmann translated Bonomo’s letter into German from Mead’s English translation and published it in his book, Aetiologie der Krätze. In 1812, Jean-Chrysanthe Galès translated Bonomo’s letter into French from the 1692 Latin version and published it in his thesis.

Secondly, the discovery made by Bonomo and Cestoni is a natural extension of human’s experience and knowledge in scabies, acquired and accumulated by both the lower class people and the upper professionals. Essentially speaking, every component of their discovery had already been discovered by other people before them. As a French science historian Daniele Ghesquier said:

“The construction of the scientific concept of the itch is an example of a collective construction of a scientific fact.”[73]

Thirdly, the most prominent feature of the discovery made by Bonomo and Cestoni, though, is its completeness, or comprehensiveness, just as Hebra assessed: “the most complete investigations with reference to the acarus scabiei and its relation to the itch” in the 17th century[32]. In other words, the biggest contribution of Bonomo and Cestoni’s discovery to medicine and science is that they advanced a plausible working hypothesis or theory that scabies is caused by the infestation of a particular kind of mites in human body.

Fourthly, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to deprive Diacinto Cestoni of his honor as the co-discoverer, and very likely the leading role player, in the discovery.

Finally, the very reason which made the European scientists and physicians reluctant to accept Bonomo and Cestoni’s discovery was the discoverers’ own fault: no one was able to repeat their result. Bonomo and Cestoni claimed that they found the itch mite in the “pustules,” however, according to Renucci’s medical degree thesis, “In human itch the Acarus is never found in the contents of the vesicles.”[21] As Beeson put it:

“Despite Hebra's eulogy of their work, Bonomo and Cestoni were guilty of several errors : first, in saying that Acarus is present in watery pustules, and second, in confusing the adult and larval forms.”[21]

Another person was much harsher:

“Bonomo (? pseudonym for Cestoni, an apothecary) (1687), who had seen the women of the lower orders in Italy pick out the acarus from its burrow, published a note on the subject. He stated, however, that the parasite was in the vesicles. Moreover, his figures require a good deal of imagination to recognize in them the familiar acarus. This Cestoni (or Bonomo) appears to have been a bit of a quack, but at any rate he is credited with being the first writer to call attention to the parasite as the cause of itch.”[50]

The evolution of the microscopic image of the scabies mite
From left: the scabies mite image illustrated by Bonomo in 1687[27]; by Wichmann in 1786[54]; by Galès in 1812[63], and by Renucci in 1839[21].

So, the question more relevant to us is: How could the John Maddox Prize winner Fang Zhouzi get these historical facts completely wrong?

If you knew him well, you’d have guessed the answer right: the congenital literary thief must have stolen the wrong goods.

被编辑3次。最后被亦明编辑于05/08/2015 07:53PM。
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