The germ theory of disease: Experiments to determine mode of spread of influenza (Dr. Milton J. Rosenau, 1919)

ROSENAU, M. J.. (1919). EXPERIMENTS TO DETERMINE MODE OF SPREAD OF INFLUENZA. Journal of the American Medical Association, 73(5), 311.

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1001/jama.1919.02610310005002
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The experiments here described were performed on an island in Boston Harbor, on volunteers obtained from the Navy. The work was conducted by a group of officers detailed for that purpose, from the U. S. Navy and the U. S. Public Health Service, consisting of Dr. G. W. McCoy, director of the Hygienic Library, Dr. Joseph Goldberger, Dr. Leake, and Dr. Lake, all on the part of the U. S. Public Health Service; and cooperating with those medical officers, was a group also detailed for this purpose on the part of the U. S. Navy, consisting of Dr. J. J. Keegan, Dr. De Wayne Richey and myself.

The work itself was conducted at Gallops Island, which is the quarantine station of the Port of Boston, and peculiarly well fitted for operations of this kind, serving adequately for the purposes of isolation, observations, and maintenance of the large group of volunteers

“The volunteers were all of the most susceptible age, mostly between 18 and 25, only a few of them around 30 years old ; and all were in good physical condition. None of these volunteers, 100 all told in number, had “influenza ;” that is, from the most care¬ ful histories that we could elicit, they gave no account of a febrile attack of any kind during the winter, except a few who were purposely selected, as having shown a typical attack of influenza, in order to test questions of immunity, and for the purpose of control. Now, we proceeded rather cautiously at first by administering a pure culture of bacillus of influenza, Pfeiffer’s bacillus, in a rather moderate amount, into the nostrils of a few of these volunteers. These early experiments I will not stop to relate, but I will go at once to what I may call our Experiment 1.”


As the preliminary trials proved negative, we became bolder, and selecting nineteen of our volunteers, gave each one of them a very large quantity of a mixture of thirteen different strains of the Pfeiffer bacillus, some of them obtained recently from the lungs at necropsy; others were subcultures of varying age, and each of the thirteen had, of course, a different history. Suspensions of these organisms were sprayed with an atomi¬ zer into the nose and into the eyes, and back into the throat, while the volunteers were breathing in. We used some billions of these organisms, according to our estimated counts, on each one of the volunteers, but none of them took sick. Then we proceeded to transfer the virus obtained from cases of the disease ; that is, we collected the material and mucous secretions of the mouth and nose and throat and bronchi from cases of the disease and transferred this to our volunteers. We always obtained this material in the same way : The patient with fever, in bed, has a large, shallow, traylike arrangement before him or her, and we washed out one nostril with some sterile salt solution, using perhaps 5 ce., which is allowed to run into this tray ; and that nostril is blown vigorously into the tray. This is repeated with the other nostril. The patient then gargles with some of the solution. Next we obtain some bronchial mucus through coughing, and then we swab the mucous surface of each nares and also the mucous membrane of the throat. We place these swabs with the material in a bottle with glass beads, and add all the material obtained in the tray. This is the stuff we transfer to our volunteers. In this par¬ ticular experiment, in which we used ten volunteers, each of them received a comparatively small quantity of this, about 1 c.c. sprayed into each nostril and into the throat, while inspiring, and on the eye. None of these took sick. Some of the same material was fil¬ tered and instilled into other volunteers but produced no results.


Our next experiment consisted in injections of blood. We took five donors, five cases of influenza in the febrile stage, some of them again quite early in the disease. We drew 20 ‘c.c. from the arm vein of each, making a total of 100 c.c, which was mixed and treated with 1 per cent, of sodium citrate. Ten c.c. of the citrated whole blood were injected into each of the ten volunteers. None of them took sick in any way. Then we collected a lot of mucous material from the upper respiratory tract, and filtered ‘ it through Man- dler filters. While these filters will hold back the bacteria of ordinary size, they will allow “ultramicro- scopic” organisms to pass. This filtrate was injected into ten volunteers, each one receiving 3.5 c.c. sub- cutaneously, and none of these took sick in any way.


Eyler, J. M.. (2010). The state of science, microbiology, and vaccines circa 1918. Public Health Reports

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1177/00333549101250s306
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“Perhaps the most interesting epidemiological studies conducted during the 1918–1919 pandemic were the human experiments conducted by the Public Health Service and the U.S. Navy under the supervision of Milton Rosenau on Gallops Island, the quarantine station in Boston Harbor, and on Angel Island, its counterpart in San Francisco. The experiment began with 100 volunteers from the Navy who had no history of influenza. Rosenau was the first to report on the experiments conducted at Gallops Island in November and December 1918.69 His first volunteers received first one strain and then several strains of Pfeiffer’s bacillus by spray and swab into their noses and throats and then into their eyes. When that procedure failed to produce disease, others were inoculated with mixtures of other organisms isolated from the throats and noses of influenza patients. Next, some volunteers received injections of blood from influenza patients. Finally, 13 of the volunteers were taken into an influenza ward and exposed to 10 influenza patients each. Each volunteer was to shake hands with each patient, to talk with him at close range, and to permit him to cough directly into his face. None of the volunteers in these experiments developed influenza. Rosenau was clearly puzzled, and he cautioned against drawing conclusions from negative results. He ended his article in JAMA with a telling acknowledgement: “We entered the outbreak with a notion that we knew the cause of the disease, and were quite sure we knew how it was transmitted from person to person. Perhaps, if we have learned anything, it is that we are not quite sure what we know about the disease.”69 (p. 313)

The research conducted at Angel Island and that continued in early 1919 in Boston broadened this research by inoculating with the Mathers streptococcus and by including a search for filter-passing agents, but it produced similar negative results.70–72 It seemed that what was acknowledged to be one of the most contagious of communicable diseases could not be transferred under experimental conditions.”

On ‘modified human agents’: John Lilly and the paranoid style in American neuroscience

Williams, C.. (2019). On ‘modified human agents’: John Lilly and the paranoid style in American neuroscience. History of the Human Sciences, 32(5), 84–107.

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1177/0952695119872094
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This article was adapted from a chapter of the PhD thesis Battles for the Mind: Brainwashing Altered States and the Politics of the Nervous System (1945-1970), completed at Birkbeck in 2018.

The personal papers of the neurophysiologist John C. Lilly at Stanford University hold a classified paper he wrote in the late 1950s on the behavioural modification and control of ‘human agents’. The paper provides an unnerving prognosis of the future application of Lilly’s research, then being carried out at the National Institute of Mental Health. Lilly claimed that the use of sensory isolation, electrostimulation of the brain, and the recording and mapping of brain activity could be used to gain ‘push-button’ control over motivation and behaviour. This research, wrote Lilly, could eventually lead to ‘master- slave controls directly of one brain over another’. The paper is an explicit example of
Lilly’s preparedness to align his research towards Cold War military aims. It is not, however, the research for which Lilly is best known. During the 1960s and 1970s, Lilly developed cult status as a far-out guru of consciousness exploration, promoting the use of psychedelics and sensory isolation tanks. Lilly argued that, rather than being used as tools of brainwashing, these techniques could be employed by the individual to regain control of their own mind and retain a sense of agency over their thoughts and actions. This article examines the scientific, intellectual, and cultural relationship between the sciences of brainwashing and psychedelic mind alteration. Through an analysis of Lilly’s autobiographical writings, I also show how paranoid ideas about brainwashing and mind control provide an important lens for understanding the trajectory of Lilly’s research.

The ‘Cold War brainwashing scare’

Lilly’s appointment to the NIMH came shortly after a new term – brainwashing – had been introduced into the English language. The term was first used publicly by journalist .7 In this article and in later works, Hunter claimed that by combining Pavlovian theory with modern technology, Russian and Chinese psychologists had developed powerful techniques for manipulating minds. Although it resonated with concerns about the growing global influence of communism, the term brainwashing would perhaps never have gained traction if it had not been for a series of scandals involving collaboration between American POWs and the Chinese enemy during the Korean War. Most famously, in 1952, Colonel Frank Schwable and 35 other captured US Air Force personnel publicly confessed to committing crimes of germ warfare against North Korea. Other accounts of collaboration at the hands of the Chinese, including the making of public anti-war and anti-McCarthy broadcasts, received widespread attention during the war. Perhaps most controversially, after a long-awaited armistice deal was agreed in 1953, one British and 21 American POWs refused to be repatriated after the war, choosing to relocate to communist China instead. It was widely reported that the soldiers had been exposed to sophisticated techniques of mental coercion based on Pavlovian science, similar to those reported to have been used to extract confessions for Soviet purge trials such as that of Cardinal József Mindszenty in 1949 ().

Scholarship on this period has described the ‘Cold War brainwashing scare’, the ‘brainwashing idea’, and the ‘spectre of brainwashing’, as a central motif in postwar film and literature upon which myriad concerns about agency and influence were projected (for use of these phrases see, respectively, ; ; ). Whilst such scholarship has often described brainwashing as a ‘cultural fantasy’, the idea of brainwashing nonetheless had real effects, not least within the human sciences. In the early 1950s, building on investigations carried out since the Second World War, the CIA established its notorious MKULTRA programme, which aimed, in the words of its former director Sidney Gottlieb, to ‘investigate whether and how it was possible to modify an individual’s behaviour by covert means’ (: 57). What the historian Alfred McCoy has called ‘the Manhattan Project of the mind’ was fuelled by a dual sense of hubris about the CIA’s own research and development potential and paranoia about the capabilities of the enemy, enhanced, as it were, by the semi-tangible reports of enemy scientific projects within what Melley has called the ‘covert sphere’ (; ).

According to his own memoirs, Lilly had long been interested in questions of behavioural control. It was reportedly his reading of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World in 1934 and its portrayal of the misuse of the human sciences that influenced his decision to major in biology rather than physics as a student (: 57). Although Lilly has somewhat successfully cultivated an image of himself as someone who resisted the lure of military and intelligence funding, like many of his peers, his work and career was heavily shaped by the wider forces shaping the human sciences after the war (; ).

*Lilly, ‘Special Considerations of Modified Human Agents as Reconnaissance and Intelligence Devices (Committee D, Intelligence and Reconnaissance)’, Lilly Papers, Box 54, Folder 17. Exactly when and where this paper was delivered is unclear. In his paper on human manipulation, Lilly implies that both papers were presented at the same place or at connected events: ‘In the following discussion I wish to mention a few human cases; a later supplement will mention certain non-human species as possible agents.’ It is likely that this work or similar was presented at the Pentagon meeting discussed in Lilly’s memoirs (: 93–5). According to a former intelligence official’s description of this meeting ‘Dr. Lilly stated that the potential of this technique in “brain-washing” or interrogation or in the field of controlling the actions of humans and animals is almost limitless’: memorandum, Jones to Deloach, 2, FBI personal file, as quoted in . However, an old inventory for Lilly’s archive from 1992 includes the entry ‘Manuscript of Presentation Given to GAP Symposium on Brainwashing Entitled: “Special Considerations of Modified Human Agents as Reconnaissance and Intelligence Devices”: November 1956’, suggesting that Lilly may have delivered this paper at a meeting for the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry, which we know he attended (). Yet this is further complicated by the fact that both papers include references dated as late as 1958, suggesting the papers in the archive were presented after 1956.

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Axiology & Agathology

Shokhin, V. K.. (2020). Axiology and Agathology. Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences, 1370–1383.

Plain numerical DOI: 10.17516/1997-1370-0648
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Greaves, H.. (2017). Population axiology. Philosophy Compass, 12(11), e12442.

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1111/phc3.12442
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Vyzhletsov, G. P.. (2019). Ontological axiology: origins and modernity. Vestnik of Saint Petersburg University. Philosophy and Conflict Studies, 33(3)

Plain numerical DOI: 10.21638/11701/spbu17.2017.302
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Hart, S. L.. (1971). Axiology–Theory of Values. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 32(1), 29.

Plain numerical DOI: 10.2307/2105883
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Thomas, T.. (2018). Some Possibilities in Population Axiology. Mind, 127(507), 807–832.

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1093/mind/fzx047
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Nano-Bio-Info-Cogno (NBIC) technologies

Martin-Sanchez, F., & Maojo, V.. (2009). Biomedical Informatics and the Convergence of Nano-Bio-Info-Cogno (NBIC) Technologies. Yearbook of Medical Informatics

, 18(01), 134–142.
Plain numerical DOI: 10.1055/s-0038-1638652
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Objectives: To analyze the role that biomedical informatics could play in the application of the NBIC Converging Technologies in the medical field and raise awareness of these new areas throughout the Biomedical Informatics community.

Methods: Review of the literature and analysis of the reference documents in this domain from the biomedical informatics perspective. Detailing existing developments showing that partial convergence of technologies have already yielded relevant results in biomedicine (such as bioinformatics or biochips). Input from current projects in which the authors are involved is also used.

Results: Information processing is a key issue in enabling the convergence of NBIC technologies. Researchers in biomedical informatics are in a privileged position to participate and actively develop this new scientific direction. The experience of biomedical informaticians in five decades of research in the medical area and their involvement in the completion of the Human and other genome projects will help them participate in a similar role for the development of applications of converging technologies -particularly in nanomedicine.

Conclusions: The proposed convergence will bring bridges between traditional disciplines. Particular attention should be placed on the ethical, legal, and social issues raised by the NBIC convergence. These technologies provide new directions for research and education in Biomedical Informatics placing a greater emphasis in multidisciplinary approaches.

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