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Possibly, though not certainly, these reports were so intended from the outset. 1). By his own account Graunt began his study as a “matter of curiosity,” [cap II, p. 12] a stimulus many great scientists have considered critical to discovery. He writes, “Now having (I know not by what accident) engaged my thoughts upon the Bills of Mortality. . ” and goes on to say, “observations which I happen’d to make (for I designed them not). . ” Yet his perspective could well fit modern epidemiology. Later he remarks of these observations, “finding some Truths, and not commonly believed Opinions.

Among his observations, he speculated on the excess numbers of deaths among men as compared with women in London (14 to 13), noted that deaths occurred in the same proportion, but that more men than women died violent deaths. In interpreting these data, he displayed due caution, observing that the classification stemmed from the causes of death assigned in the reports of the ancient matrons who had collected the information recorded in the Bills of Mortality. Thus, Graunt asserted, during plague years denial of affliction by the plague was common.

38 French Enlightenment, Epidemiology, and Public Health 39 A major change in the focus of the reigning intellectuals of the time thus created a new social and political consciousness and gave substance to new and literally revolutionary ideas. Central to this thinking was the idea of creating a freer and fairer society, goals clearly entailing improved conditions of life for the least fortunate. ) These ideas included concepts relevant to health, hence in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, a new social and epidemiological consciousness arose.

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