History Shows That When Prejudice Overrides Science, Public Health Is at Risk

April 20, 2020

(TIME) – Crucially, Powell’s eugenic ideals left him ill-equipped to handle the public-health emergencies raging within his own institution. In his fascination with heredity, he ignored the medical revolution ushered in by the germ theory of disease, particularly Edward Koch’s discovery of the tubercle bacillus in 1882—a lethal, willful ignorance. Powell’s yearly reports documented a range of diseases in his asylum that had far less to do with heredity and far more to do with the epidemic conditions created there by his own policies.