In 1865, Joseph Lister stated that infection in a wound didn’t come from insidethe body, it was transferred by micro-organisms from outside the body.

So, if you killed the micro-organisms (germs) by sterilisation, the wound wouldn’t get infected.

He said a surgeon’s hands and instruments therefore must be washed in carbolic acid before coming into contact with a wound.

But in 1873, the Lancet considered Germ Theory so ridiculous it published a series of articles warning surgeons against this silly fad.

Which was a shame, because on July 2nd 1881 President James Garfield was shot in the back.

The White House doctor was Willard Bliss, he’d read in the Lancet that sterilisation was nonsense so he probed about inside the wound with unwashed hands and unwashed instruments to find the musket-ball.

Initially the president’s condition was good and he seemed likely to make a full recovery.

But due to continual probing with unwashed hands, he developed an infection.

Bliss was convinced this was because they hadn’t found the musket-ball.

Alexander Graham Bell even developed a metal detector to help find it.

But he was only allowed to probe where Bliss thought the musket-ball was.

Consequently results were inconclusive, but Bliss claimed it was,unanimously agreed that the location of the ball has been ascertained with reasonable certainty, and that it lies, as heretofore stated, in the front wall of the abdomen, about five inches below and to the right of the navel.

By July 23rd, 3 weeks after being shot, Garfield had a temperature of 104 degrees and he’d lost 40lbs in weight.

He had an abscess in the wound, drained with an unwashed tube.

By September 18th he developed pneumonia and hypertension, and by the next day he was dead.

At the autopsy the musket-ball was found to be on the other side of the body, the left side, where Bliss had refused to allow Bell to investigate.

Ira Rutkow, a member of the American College of Surgeons, says, President Garfield had such a nonlethal wound that in today’s world he would have gone home in a matter of two or three days.

The man who shot Garfield, Charles Guiteau, even used medical incompetence as his defence, stating: “Garfield died from malpractice. According to his own physicians, he was not fatally shot. The doctors who mistreated him ought to be indicted for murdering James Garfield, not me.

But of course it didn’t work and Guiteau was executed.

Willard Bliss was the White House doctor, he was unassailable.

He MUST know what he was doing, it was ridiculous to question his authority.

And yet that’s where we are: the person with the best qualifications, the best accent, the best breeding, has the most credibility, they must know best.

Despite what the facts and our own common sense tells us.

Someone recently posted on twitter:

What’s the difference between humans and animals?

Animals would never allow the dumbest ones to lead the pack”.

That’s worth remembering for advertising and marketing.