Oh, man-crush Steven Novella, how do I love thy postings at Neurologica? Let me count the ways…
Um, okay: two. That is, I love the latest post at Neurologica (The Coming Bedbug Plague) two ways: It is about an insect (which is a topic I’m lately fairly obsessed with) and it links the insect story with a pithy observation about humans’ mistaken belief in the inevitability of progress.
Here’s my favorite bit from the part about progress:
My initial surprise at hearing this story, I think, reflects an inherent progressivist bias in our thinking. We tend to think of human history as making inexorable progress. This bias is reinforced, especially since the industrial revolution, by the fact that science and technology has been relentlessly progressive. The problem is in the default assumption that all change is progressive – whatever current system we have must be better than the old system because newer is better.
Human history, however, is more complex than our default assumptions. Sometimes history is regressive. And sometimes it is cyclical. Not all current trends will extrapolate indefinitely into the future. Today’s fad is not always the wave of the future.
In my mind bedbugs were a problem of pre or early industrial societies, and were no longer an issue given modern hygiene and pest-control. I associated bedbugs with an earlier age, and it just seemed incongruous that they could return in the 21st century. But the details tell a different story.
I’m not sure I’ve mentioned the recent insect obsession on lies.com, but you can find evidence of it, if you’re interested, at my local nature-y blog, Carp Without Cars. Or you can examine my recently uploaded images at Bugguide.net. Or you can watch this video I took in my bedroom the other day, of a case-bearing carpet moth caterpillar, and contemplate the fact that taking that video was kind of the high point of my week:
Or you could just take my word for it: I’m kind of into bugs lately.