Friday, October 28, 2011
Louis Pasteur: Driven By Purpose Rather Than Profit
The reality is, most of the great vaccine discoveries throughout history came not from the desire to profit, but from the desire to improve the human condition and from the desire to make the world a better and safer place for us all. I have previously discussed how Jonas Salk released his polio vaccine to the public without first seeking to patent it or profit from it because he was drive by purpose, but Salk isn’t the only one.
Louis Pasteur's work was driven by such a purpose as well. Pasteur was a French chemist and microbiologist who is probably best known for the process of pasteurization, and he is often referred to as the “father” of germ theory. He was one of the first people to suggest to doctors that they bother to sterilize their instruments and actually wash their hands before and after performing surgery on patients which directly led to a significant decrease in the amount of surgery-related infections. (Don’t bother explaining this concept to Mr. Hubbs however as he doesn’t believe in the germ theory and therefore thinks it is just all a big coincidence).
That said, Pasteur’s discoveries didn’t stop with germ theory or pasteurization and he worked tirelessly on a number of different vaccines. At one point he was developing a vaccine for rabies as the disease was responsible for killing thousands of people each year. He had tested his vaccine on rabbits, and was prepared to test it upon himself just as a nine year old boy named Joseph Meister was attacked by a rabid dog.
Meister’s mother pleaded with Pasteur to test the vaccine on her son and although Pasteur himself was not a licensed physician at the time, he put his personal reputation and career at risk in order to attempt to save Joseph’s life. Thankfully, Joseph’s inoculation against rabies was successful and he never contracted the disease, and thus a functional rabies vaccine was officially discovered.
This foundation laid the groundwork for other work on vaccines, and Pasteur himself became known as nothing short of a hero due to his work. Decades later, Pasteur was asked what he would like to be etched upon his tombstone… and as legend has it he asked for only three words: “Joseph Meister Lived!”.
To think a man who helped shape the future of vaccine science, the man known as the father of germ theory, and the man who has been known for numerous discoveries that have saved countless lives was never concerned with his reputation… but rather when he had to boil it all down the only thing he cared about was saving this one young boy.
Does that sound like someone who is only concerned with profit, or does it sound like someone who was driven by purpose? The answer seems clear, and that thought process is not unique to only Pasteur. In fact right this very moment in time there are thousands upon thousands of doctors and scientists and researchers toiling away in their labs and offices and hospitals and clinics and even homes in search of the next big discovery that will make its mark on mankind.
Are we really to believe that all of these people are only concerned with wealth and profit? Are we really to believe there is some vast conspiracy at play which actually results in more people getting sick just so a few select companies can sell some medications or vaccines? I suppose there are differing theories on the subject, but to suggest that tens of thousands of doctors and researchers are all involved in some massive manipulation of the scientific process is nothing short of a conspiracy theory… so is it really any wonder why Mr. Hubbs has earned the label of “vaccine conspiracy theorist”?
Yea… I didn’t think so either.