Plague, British Library, London discussed on Science Friction

Science Friction


This is an image. That is in a encyclopedia. That was written around thirteen sixty five by a clerk in London named James Palmer, and it's heavily illustrated. And this one image is of a bunch of clerics. So people in the church perhaps monks being instructed by their Bishop. The men are all covered in spots. The text around the image talks about the fact that this is a Bishop giving instruction to clerics as to what they're supposed to do or what rights and benefits they have if they fall ill while they're in their position. And should they be thrown out of the church? Exactly. And whether if they're too sick to work are they allowed to get the income that they would normally get or do they need to hire somebody to take their place. Okay. Sounds pretty reasonable doesn't it a very likely fourteenth century scenario? But none of that context was being distributed with the image as it sprayed across the internet. And when historian sort being described as a group of plague infected monks with a priest. I smelled a rat. Not a plague infected flea on a red just a read it didn't quite seem right because people with the plague first of all don't have those kind of spots that we're aware of and also probably wouldn't be standing up because once you have the plug you're quite ill. And you'd probably be lying down and dying. There were whole lot of things that seem to be wrong once historians like sill started digging. Yes, exactly, it's so they're certainly not dressed like monks, and the priest doesn't look like what a priest would have been wearing either. So we have clothing issues, you have disease pick Shen issues that none of it. Quite lined up and infect spotted Skien tended to mean, something else in medieval, iconography it. Did it meant leprosy? So it wasn't the bony play at all. And if you read the original manuscript, it was very clearly that the clerics head literacy not the plague so Laurie and her medieval history colleagues went hunting. Dan, the source of the area, and it lived them to no less than the esteemed British library, where the original was held. And then it was given to somebody to create a caption for it on the online version, and that person took the image and called it the plague and what happened next because what this image effectively sprayed like the big. And then it got picked up by Wikipedia in English and every other language that has wicked pedia black death pages. And then what happens is people go online and they're looking for images, and they pick up this image either from the British library or from Wikipedia that says. Here's an image of the black death. And there we go. This now is an image of the plague and it's from the British library. So you have to believe it. And that's part of the problem is that the people who are doing the captioning for these online sites might not have any direct knowledge of what the image is actually about. And now at least three commercial stock photo, libraries, sell it as a definitive historical representation of the plague. So science information that is misuse you. Probably come across that a lot on your own shows. It's somebody will do a scientific study, and it will be misinterpreted and used to promote something else entirely. It's the same with historical textual information that if you're misreading it you're misrepresenting what people at the time we're talking about. But he's really an issue. This is a fourteenth century need. So what if it's Lipsey not plague? So what if the main man was a Bishop not appraised? So what if the clerics went monks? You know? What what's the problem here for historians? The problem is that people are misrepresenting the past when I teach history of disease courses, I try and tell the students that you wouldn't take an image of somebody with chicken pox to explain to somebody what the flu is like there is some speculation that the plague in the fourteenth century, maybe even during the fifteenth century might have looked more like this spotted disease,.

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