Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Who is the Commensalist ????

We must all learn to live together within Nature: all diners at her common table (commensal) or all learn to die together, frying up in the upcoming global climate meltdown."   (Blog Mission Statement.)

Well.... it isn't me --- I mean I am a commensalist, very much so ---- but I am not THE COMMENSALIST

I consider that honor belongs to Martin Henry Dawson.

Dawson was not the first or the most prominent basic scientist to dive deep into biological commensality, in the exact scientific sense of the word.

Nor was he the first by any means to demonstrate acts of ethical commensality - that happened a long, long time ago.

But I believe he was the first ever to act ethically upon what he had newly learned scientifically : in my sense of the terms, he exhibited Scientific Good Faith rather than Scientific Bad Faith .

That is his Popular Science (assembling a small ramshackle operation to grow penicillium slime so he could save the lives of unwanted terminal 4F patients with impure penicillin) ( a joint commensal operation of doctors, 4F patients and microbes) was created in the same spirit as what he had learned in his Public Science : seeing Nature's smallest, weakest, "stupidest" beings display the amazing ability to surmount difficulty after difficulty to go on living.

At a time when all his medical and scientific colleagues world wide had drunk deep of the Kool Aid of  Chemical Autarky and produced no penicillin, he worked instead with Nature's smallest, weakest beings to help Humanity's smallest, weakest beings when they needed it most ...

To add that he did all this when he himself was dying of a painful disease, seems almost trite.....

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