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August 26, 1939

Alice in Virusland

JAMA. 1939;113(9):882. doi:10.1001/jama.1939.02800340152031

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Abstract

Professor Clark takes a germ's eye view of the human race and utilizes the occasion of his presidential address to the Society of American Bacteriologists to express an opinion which is far from favorable. Paraphrasing Alice in Wonderland, he takes Alice by virtue of a shrinking potion into Virusland, where she gets an unvarnished opinion of the human race from the microscopic creatures. This is effectively summed up by a verse from a poem "The Coccus and the Spirochaete":

"Should we permit," the Coccus asked, "These silly beasts to thrive, Who call themselves the lords of earth Yet selfishly connive Freedom, dignity and peace From many lands to drive?"

It is an extraordinarily clever and stimulating, though pessimistic, production. The epilogue, which the author refrained from reading at the annual banquet because it was "thought to be in harmony with the philosophy of the paper but not with the spirit

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