CTC Biology Discussion

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Remember, you are expected to locate references from scientifically based sources, preferably peer-reviewed sources. Sources obtained from major universities, government, and reputable non-profit organizations’ websites may be acceptable.

  1. Watch the indicated portion of the following video. PBS: A Science Odyssey: Matters of Life and Death (Watch from the beginning time 0:00 to 25:13 (end of the Dr. Goldberger story).
  2. Answer one of the three questions below:
    1. Many diseases such as Typhoid (transmitted by lice), Cholera (transmitted by fecal contamination in water), Malaria and Yellow fever (transmitted by mosquitos), which were prevalent in 1900, declined dramatically in the U.S. by 1920-1930. Discuss the drivers behind the decline of these and other water-borne and insect-borne illnesses. Investigate where these diseases are still prevalent today and why they are still present. Cite additional sources.
    2. Answer this question in a coherent essay form. I pose a number of questions that I expect you to answer but do not simply answer the questions briefly and move on. I pose the questions to help you think about the science behind the story. Before David Goldberger began his study of Pellagra in 1914, what were some hypotheses regarding the cause of Pellagra? When Dr. Goldberger began to investigate the disease, he noticed that only the patients, children or prisoners in the institutions he studied had the disease—staff in the institutions did not.
      • What did this suggest to Dr. Goldberger about the cause of the disease? Compare Dr. Goldberger’s first experimental design (in orphanages and insane asylums) to his second (on a prison farm). What improvements did he make to his original design? What problems still existed with his later design? Were the design problems the reason Dr. Goldberg’s research was not immediately accepted and acted on? If not, why not?
    3. Dr. Goldberger sees the public response to his second experiment as “total irrationality”. Dr. Breiger, the narrator of this section, stated: “The Goldberger story shows you that science by itself is not enough, that people have to change their behavior, people have to believe what the scientists are telling them, and only then will they act upon the knowledge that someone like Goldberger provides”.
      • Give at least 3 modern examples of scientific knowledge conflicting with human behavioral change. What are your suggestions for addressing the social resistance to these issues? Cite additional sources.


  1. Watch the indicated portion of the following video. PBS:
  2. Write a reflection on one of the following topics:
    1. Discuss the striking differences between medical practices at the start of the 20th century (1900) compared to the middle to late 20th century (1950). Find and cite additional sources to the movie to help elaborate on the differences.
    2. Discuss the response of the San Francisco community to the plague outbreak in Chinatown in 1900 compared to the response to the plague outbreak after the 1906 earthquake. Discuss parallels between these responses and modern (last 10 years) responses to the potential or reality of immigrant-borne diseases. Be sure to include a discussion of the changes in medical understanding as well as social factors that drove these differences. Again, cite additional sources.


Choose ONE of the extension videos and summarize the key points that the speaker is making:

Think of extracting from the talk some key ideas that would help your classmates to understand the points being made. Remember, your classmates are your audience. Don’t put information into your paper that you can’t clearly explain. Write your own post before you read the posts of other students. It will be very obvious if you try to copy/modify someone else’s post instead of doing your own. These videos vary in how difficult they may be to understand. If you do an excellent job on a difficult video you can earn extra credit above the basic 10 points. However, if you choose a video that you cannot understand, you will not be able to write clearly about it. Starred videos will be easier for those students who have some chemistry background from biology 1408 or another course that covers basic chemistry and biochemistry. Be sure to respond to a post from another student.


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