Revisionist History Sees Pasteur As Liar Who Stole Rival's Ideas
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times
Posted: June 29th, 2020
Louis Pasteur, one of the legendary figures in the history of science, lied about his research, stole ideas from a competitor and was deceitful in ways that would now be regarded as scientific misconduct if not fraud, according to a revisionist history published this month. "The Private Science of Louis Pasteur," by Dr. Gerald L. Geison of Princeton University, is based on an examination of Pasteur's 102 laboratory notebooks. Pasteur ... tried to reduce the virulence of microbes by exposing them to oxygen in order to make them suitable for vaccination. But in developing a vaccine against anthrax ... Pasteur adapted a method he had used a year earlier to produce a vaccine against chicken cholera. To head off competitors, Pasteur had purposely withheld reporting the simple method he used to prepare the chicken cholera vaccine. Pasteur impulsively accepted a public challenge to carry out the world's first public trial of any experimental vaccine. Pasteur's assistants injected his formula into 25 sheep, left another 25 unprotected and then injected all 50 with virulent anthrax bacteria. Only the vaccinated sheep survived. But, the notebooks show, Pasteur lied when he suggested publicly that his dramatically successful vaccine had been developed by exposing anthrax bacteria to oxygen. In fact he ... made his vaccine by secretly relying on a technique used by a rival, Jean-Joseph Toussaint. Eventually, Pasteur's oxygen method did produce an anthrax vaccine, but only after he had won a monopoly to produce the vaccine.
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