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Friday, April 15, 2011

The Scurvy Factor

Scurvy often presents itself initially as symptoms of malaise and lethargy, followed by formation of spots on the skin, spongy gums, and bleeding from the mucous membranes. Spots are most abundant on the thighs and legs, and a person with the ailment looks pale, feels depressed, and is partially immobilized. As scurvy advances, there can be open, suppurating wounds, loss of teeth, jaundice, fever, neuropathy and death…..

Today scurvy is known to be caused by a nutritional deficiency, but until the isolation of vitamin C and its direct link to scurvy in 1932, numerous theories and treatments were proposed, often on little or no experimental data. This inconsistency is attributed to the lack of vitamin C as a distinct concept….  (Wikipedia)

In a way, mankind is in a bizarre drama where very important nonnegotiable rules and needs exist.  Some of them are known, but many are unknown.  Not knowing the rules or the root causes of undesireable consequences, he finds himself in a vast collection of misery.  The list includes—proverty, unemployment, domestic violence, business cycles, crime, disfunctional behaviors, addictions, national deficits—a continuing list of maladies whose root causes have yet to conceptually crystalize.  We are aware that some things seem to help, but haven’t gotten to the fundamental essence of why they work.  The encouraging thing is that as in scurvey, an extensive collection of miserable consequences may prove to be treatable by one or two distinct concepts once creatively identified and widely appreciated. Likely these solutions will have institutional and philosophical implications.  Unlike in a physical ailment, social maladies often are associated with deeply set vested interests.  Therefore, one can anticipate that the political fallout following the identification of trenchant solutions will be substantial, severe, and long-lasting.

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