We Wuz Plague Fighters

@Enopoletus has found some rather interesting anecdotes from an old book, Thirty Years in Moukden, 1883-1913 by Dugald Christie.

Infectious diseases such as chickenpox, measles, scarlet fever, and smallpox, are always more or less among us, for no precautions are taken against their spread. The last is regarded as an ordinary children’s ailment, and is usually of a mild type. Yet a great many die of it, and many more are badly disfigured by pockmarks, or have other sad trace of the ravages of the disease.

Several terrible epidemic of cholera have swept through the country during the past thirty years. The worst was during my first summer in Moukden. Native treatment was worse than useless, consisting largely in piercing with needles. The disease was of a most malignant type, and the mortality was terrible, 20,000 coffins being carried out through the city gates during August and September. We were kept busy from morning till night trying to save lives. …

There is nothing magical about East Asians and containing epidemics. It’s just a story of their rise, coupled with Greater European decline.

As he sardonically notes, the same country that taught China how to prevent epidemics is now “succumbing to a pandemic of (possibly) Chinese origin”.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. Please keep off topic posts to the current Open Thread.

    If you are new to my work, start here.

  2. Blinky Bill says


    Dr Wu’s most crucial breakthrough came when he developed a face mask to filter the air. It was the original version of the N95 mask.

    Contrary to belief at the time that fleas were responsible for it, Wu determined that the plague was actually spread through the air after he conducted an autopsy on one of the victims.

    “This was contrary to the general idea that plague could only be transmitted by rats or fleas and could not be transmitted from person to person. His idea surprised all of his scientific peers and was met with widespread disbelief,” according to a paper published in the United States National Library of Medicine.

    Following which, he initiated a quarantine and arranged for buildings to be disinfected. He also asked the bodies of the plague victims to be cremated, which turned out to be the turning point of the epidemic.

    By 31 March 1911, merely days after cremations began, no further infection was reported.

    He expanded on surgical masks he had seen in the West, developing them into more substantial masks with layers of gauze and cotton to filter the air through its several layers of cloth.

    The mask wrapped securely around one’s face. Some doctors, however, still doubted the effectiveness of Dr Wu’s face masks, with one such doctor dying of the plague after refusing to wear the mask.

    According to the National Library of Medicine paper, his name was Gérald Mesny. He was a prominent French doctor who had come to replace Dr Wu. He doubted Dr Wu’s views and refused to wear the mask.

    “Wu explains to the French doctor his theory that the plague is pneumonic and airborne. And the French guy humiliates him. And to prove this point, Mesny goes and attends the sick in a plague hospital without wearing Wu’s mask, and he dies in two days with the plague,” Lynteris told Fast Company.

    Prior to refusing to wear Wu’s mask, Mesny said: “What can we expect from a Chinaman?”

    History repeats itself ?


  3. Blinky Bill says
  4. Person looks kinda dark. Where is Bliss to claim that this as an African achievement?

  5. Blinky Bill says
  6. To be fair, Zimbabwe and Syria have 3 cases per million people, as good as Vietnam, and some of the best performance in the world as far as containment statistics go.

    The most successful countries in containment are Papua New Guinea and Angola. 🙂 (lowest number of cases per million). It helps if you are too poor to afford traveling to Europe and US.

  7. Just Passing Through says

    Testing in those countries is also likely to be low, which just goes to show how much exaggerated this virus’ deadlines as is, as those countries do not seem to be on the verge of collapsing.

  8. Who can explain the strange reaction of the United States to the coronavirus?
    After all, given the huge scientific and technological potential of the US, measures against the coronavirus should have been more extensive (at the level of New Zealand and Australia at least).

  9. Trump

  10. HallParvey says

    SJW Science Deniers.

    SJW reality deniers. They’ve been at it for a long time. They created the concept of SJ which evolved into political correctness, among other reality denials.

  11. The Alarmist says

    The U.S. was pushed into poor decision making by SJW Science Deniers who ignored the medical facts about WUHAN-19.

    But they are getting what they want via the back door: Planetary demise by climate change was always 12 years to 100 years away, while COVID-19 was billed as likely to kill 40 million in a matter of months. Much scarier and in need of immediate action!

  12. Astuteobservor II says

    But then if we think about the craptastic efforts after hurricane Katrina, this retarded response to covid 19 is actually fucking normal.

    Fucking sad.

  13. Historically, America has usually been quite chaotic and incompetent in managing this kind of crisis – although, in relation to pandemics, it depends more on local than federal decisions (there is wide variety between American cities in the effectiveness of managing in the 1918 Spanish flu).

    • In addition, America has an quite anglosaxon cultural heritage, which might somehow explain the unusual rebelliousness of the population to following anti-epidemic measures. You can see in Great Britain, how disobediently the people behave, including mass refusal of almost all the citizens to wear masks and gloves.

    Only around 5% of people in supermarkets in England, wear a mask or gloves. Moreover this 5%, usually seem to be immigrants and guest workers from slavonic, Chinese and Latin nationalities. If you see people with a mask in England, it seems they will be usually are actually Poles, Spaniards, Italians or Chinese people that live in England, instead of native English people.

  14. Because none of the national leadership are wearing face masks?

  15. trickster says

    This author has lost his credibility. Almost all he ever writes about is this stupid virus hoax and his articles bare glean 2 dozen comments. He has become quite frankly a bore and other harsher adjectives would be applicable in less gentile company. YAAAAAAAAAAWN !

  16. That’s actually Jean Ping. He’s a Gabonese politician who is half-black (black mother) and half-Chinese (Chinese father). He’s got black skin but also a Chinese face.

  17. E. Harding says

    Lol, Karlin, the interesting/relevant part in the book (p. 234 on) was the part about the pulmonary plague pandemic of 1911 and how the British helped the Chinese contain it despite the complaints of the business community and the frequent stupidity and dishonesty of the public (which did eventually listen to the British experts, who were obviously much smarter than those of today).

    Interestingly, there has been one U.S. state that has contained the virus: Montana (population same as that of Rhode Island). The Democratic governor, Steve Bullock, was one of the lesser candidates for the Democratic nomination.

  18. Blinky Bill says

    I know who that is. That’s how I was able to find the picture so quickly and make an unfunny joke. I have always thought he was a very impressive individual, a proud Wenzhou man.

  19. Blinky Bill says

    Here is another you might recognise / be interested in.

    Maybe Dmitry can also chime in with his opinion.