Medical Science in the Light of the Holocaust: Departing from a postwar article by Ludwik Fleck
2008 (English)In: Social Studies of Science, ISSN 0306-3127, E-ISSN 1460-3659, Vol. 38, no 2, 259-283 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
In scholarly debates, Ludwik Fleck's post-war paper 'Problemy naukoznawstwa [Problems of the Science of Science]', published in 1946, has been taken unanimously to illustrate the epistemology expounded in his monograph Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact. The paper has also been seen to support parts of the received view of Fleck, notably that he manufactured an anti-typhus vaccine while imprisoned in Buchenwald. However, a different narrative emerges when comparing Fleck's paper with other accounts, also published in 1946 and written by other prisoners alluded to by Fleck in his paper. The situation is further complicated by four papers, published in prestigious scientific journals between 1942 and 1945, by the German medical leader of the typhus studies accounted for by Fleck. In addition, a thus-far neglected paper by Fleck, published in 1946 and summarizing his observations on typhus, discloses his role in the Buchenwald studies. Despite the obvious difficulties with tracing the history behind these works, notably the one on Nazi science, the contention is that what was attempted in Buchenwald in the name of science amounted to pseudoscience. This conclusion is amply supported not only by the accounts given by Fleck's fellow prisoners, but also by his own post-war paper on typhus. Based on the above findings, it is suggested that the mythology about Fleck, established in the 1980s, has been accomplished by a selective reading of his papers and also that the role played by Fleck was more complex than has so far been contemplated.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 38, no 2, 259-283 p.
Buchenwald studies, Ding-Schuler, Ludwik Fleck, Nazi science, Typhus vaccine
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-6682DOI: 10.1177/0306312707082953ISI: 000255574900004PubMedID: 18831133ScopusID: 2-s2.0-40849134065OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-6682DiVA: diva2:11459
QC 201008262006-12-222006-12-222011-11-08Bibliographically approved