Item description for Interdisciplinary Public Health Reasoning and Epidemic Modelling: The Case of Black Death by George Christakos...
This book introduces a novel synthetic paradigm of public health reasoning and epidemic modelling, and then implements it in the study of the infamous 14th century AD Black Death disaster that killed at least one-fourth of the European population.
The book starts by focusing on the intellectual context in which epidemic research takes place, in a way that accounts for the interdisciplinary and multicultural trends of the emerging Conceptual Age. The authors maintain that for public health scientists to function in an often complex environment, they should be aware of the divergent conceptions of knowledge and the technological changes that these imply, the multiple and often uncertain databases available and their reliability, the different styles of thinking adopted by the disciplines involved, and the importance of developing sound interdisciplinary knowledge integration skills. A unique feature of the book is that it takes the reader through all four major phases of interdisciplinary inquiry: adequate conceptualization (in terms of metaphors, methodological principles, epistemic rules, and argumentation modes), rigorous formulation (involving sophisticated mathematical models), substantive interpretation (in terms of correspondence principles between form and meaning), and innovative implementation (using advanced systems technology and multi-sourced real world databases). This approach is then applied to scientifically advance the spatiotemporal characterization of the Black Death epidemic, thus going beyond the sensationalistic narration of events found in other publications.
The book includes the most complete collection of interdisciplinary information sources available about the Black Death epidemic, each one systematically documented, tabulated, and analyzed. It also presents, for the first time, a series of detailed space-time maps of Black Death mortality, infected area propagation, and epidemic centroid paths throughout the 14th century AD Europe. Preparation of the maps took into account the uncertain nature of the data and integrated a variety of interdisciplinary knowledge bases about the devastating epidemic. These maps provide researchers and the interested public with an informative and substantive description of the Black Death dynamics (temporal evolution, local and global geographical patterns, etc.), and can help one discover an underlying coherence in disease distribution that was buried within reams of contemporary evidence that had so far defied quantitative understanding. The book carefully analyzes the findings of synthetic space-time modelling that enlighten considerably the long-lasting controversy about the nature and origins of the Black Death epidemic. Comparisons are made between the spatiotemporal characteristics of Black Death and bubonic plague, thus contributing to the debate concerning the Black Death etiology. Since Black Death had grave societal, public health, and financial effects, its rigorous study can offer valuable insight into these effects, as well as into similar effects that could result from potential contemporary epidemics.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.45" Width: 6.14" Height: 0.87" Weight: 1.59 lbs.
Release Date Aug 22, 2005
ISBN 3540257942 ISBN13 9783540257943
Availability 67 units. Availability accurate as of May 27, 2017 07:47.
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Reviews - What do customers think about Interdisciplinary Public Health Reasoning and Epidemic Modelling: The Case of Black Death?
A powerful and important contribution to Black Death scholarship Aug 21, 2006
This is one of the most important books to have been published on the epidemiology of the Black Death.
George Christakos and his colleagues have put their considerable public health modelling expertise to use in mapping the Black Death through space and time. Previous maps of the epidemic - from those of Carpentier (1962) to Benedictow (2004) - have achieved only a general sense of the movement of this, the most lethal epidemic Europe has ever experienced. Christakos et al. still face the same fundamental problem that has hamstrung these earlier historians and demographers: medieval sources being what they are, it is impossible to obtain consistent data on the presence of plague in any one place at a verifiable time, leading to a view of the spread of the disease that is impressionistic at best. For Christakos et al., however, the unknown and the uncertain is not a problem but a positive virtue. By employing advanced stochastic modelling techniques, which allow for the unreliability of medieval sources and the vagaries of epidemic disease, Christakos et al. have been able to reconstruct the epidemiology of the Black Death with a breath-taking level of detail. Instead of the unrealistic `waves' of epidemic disease that we have been given before, we are now presented with a far more human pandemic. Pestilence spreads out from loci forming the nodes of the medieval transport network. The disease travels up roads and along waterways. It hops from port to port and then makes its inevitable progress inland. It is altogether a more convincing picture of the Black Death and one that fits far better with what contemporaries stated they had seen. In so doing, Christakos et al. confirm the view that the Pestilence had nothing to do with rats and fleas and was most likely a pathogen that passed directly between people.
This is a scholarly book and much of it is devoted to the mathematics that underpin the model itself. Its audience will include epidemiologists and students of stochastics as well as medical and medieval historians. Christakos' ability to encompass such diverse disciplines is impressive. He and his team should be forgiven the very occasional slip on medieval history as their overall interpretation has added so considerably to how we view the pandemic. Historians for too long have been poor interpreters of the science of pestilence and plague. In helping to correct these errors, Christakos has demonstrated the rich contribution that interdisciplinary research has to make to historical debates, a contribution that historians would do well to welcome.