10.1.12

BEFORE THE GERM THEORY OF DISEASE.

Voluntary Xchange contemplates the health benefits of beer, or tea.  The transition from being drunk to being wired matters.
People drank all day at that time because the water wasn’t safe to drink. They didn’t understand the mechanism, but there were clear medicinal reasons for a lot of beer and wine (remember that spirits were in their infancy at this point).

Yet, people had the technology to boil their water. The thing is, they didn’t recognize the advantages of this. There’s an unusual research project there for a Ph.D. student: why exactly wasn’t this discovered. Because what’s interesting is that they did learn to boil water to make a mild drug: coffee or tea. So it clearly took a little extra marginal benefit to convince people to drink hot liquids, but not too much.
It's significant, I suppose, that the legend of James Watt and the steam engine begins with the lid on a tea kettle, rather than on a beer fermenter.

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