Direct and Explicit

Found this blog post via @tombennett71 and it is a very interesting read. For the people who know the Kirschner, Sweller & Clark article, it won’t come as a surprise, but do note that this article has spurred discussion (actually, this book is next on my reading list). The most important element – to me – in this blog post is the urge for replication, but educational research does have some issues here.

Filling the pail

There was no conspiracy against Ignaz Semmelweis. It’s just that the doctors didn’t like what he had to say.

Semmelweis discovered that if obstetricians washed their hands then this dramatically reduced the incidence of puerperal fever. He linked this to the fact that doctors would often move from examining corpses to examining patients and thought that something was being transferred. So Semmelweis foreshadowed the germ theory of disease.

You might think that his success in cutting mortality rates would be universally welcomed. It wasn’t. Some questioned the validity of his data, suggesting that further studies were needed. Others felt the findings were a bit of an insult to the medical profession because doctors were gentleman and gentlemen’s hands were clean.

The main problem was that it didn’t fit with the prevailing orthodoxy that puerperal fever was complicated and developed in different ways in different patients. Doctors took what might be…

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