Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: November 27, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412953948 | Print ISBN: 9781412928168 | Online ISBN: 9781412953948| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Epidemiology, History of
David M. Morens
Student : What is epidemiology, father? Teacher : It is all things to all men, my son … The plethora of definitions is the very heart of the problem … a structure sturdy enough to … shelterphysicians, dentists, veterinarians, and nurses; very small (micro) biologists and fat chemists; mammalogists, bugmen, birdmen, and spacemen; traffic directors and city planners; engineers mechanical, sanitary, electrical, stationary, and human; sociologists, psychologists, and anthropologists, cultural and otherwise … everything! —Anonymous (1963) The preceding satirical barb from 1963, titled ‘Epidemi(olog) 2 y ∗,’ goes on to define epidemiology (‘or epidemiologology’) in circular fashion as ‘simply the study of epidemiology,’ and hints at why a comprehensive history of the subject has neither been written nor, apparently, even attempted. From the vantage point of 2007, looking back over the past few decades, it appears that epidemiology has further expanded in breadth from the diffusion satirized in 1963. Moreover, ...