250 and 190 years ago in our country there were two powerful epidemics that required strict quarantine measures. Both times they caused interesting mental epidemics: massive outbreaks of the wildest conspiracy theories among the population. Oddly enough, most of them are very similar to the theories of Russian conspiracy theorists today, in 2020. A quarter of a thousand years ago, under Catherine II, the victims of one of these mental epidemics managed to arrange a massacre in Moscow, which noticeably slowed down the victory over the disease. Let's try to figure out why the introduction of mass education did not make our response to epidemics noticeably smarter and whether this can happen in principle.
The corona crisis has already killed one hundred thousand people and infected 1.7 million. It is quite obvious that we are not yet at the end of the epidemic, which raises the classic question: what to do? It is aggravated by the fact that, as we have already written, there is no hope for a mass vaccine to appear before autumn (or rather next year). With medications for the disease, so far, everything is also not particularly rosy. So: modern approaches to fighting the epidemic are not working yet. Perhaps it is worth referring to the experience of past centuries?
The reader may object: why? After all, it is clear that the people of the past were illiterate barbarians without evidence-based medicine, who knew nothing about the causative agents of the disease, and therefore their experience in the fight against them should be completely useless for us, such massively educated and armed with evidence-based medicine based on experiment.
Oddly enough, this is not the case. Even Neanderthals used the main component of aspirin (from willow bark) and penicillin (from mold). Even the ancient Romans and doctors of the Middle Ages noted that diseases are caused by microscopic living things invisible to the eye.
Back in the 18th century in Russia, it was shown that long-term quarantine can stop even an extremely powerful epidemic without destroying the economic life of society. Let us remember exactly how this was done a quarter of a thousand years ago.
Plague of 1770: why it is so difficult for the state to suppress the epidemic
Large epidemics traditionally come to Russia from Asian centers (in fact, in Eurasia, this is almost always the case), and this is exactly what happened in 1770. An outbreak of plague in Turkey and the Balkans "through" the Russian army in the theater of operations began to penetrate into Russia.
Two hundred and fifty years ago, the insufficient rigidity of the authorities in the implementation of quarantine measures ended in a riot, during which control over Moscow was lost. The total number of victims of the epidemic in it then exceeded 57 thousand people / © Wikimedia Commons
The very energetic General von Stofeln was the first to write reports on this topic, but the empress's attitude towards him was very spoiled. Perhaps this also influenced her perception of his alarmist statements regarding the plague coming from the south. The fact is that von Stofeln, in general, within the framework of the customs of that time, during the war was not shy about the "scorched earth" policy. Catherine II wrote about this to his boss Rumyantsev:
“The exercises of Mr. Shtofeln in burning out city after city and villages by the hundreds, I confess, are very unpleasant for me. It seems to me that one should not act on such barbarism without extreme measures … Perhaps, calm down Shtofeln …"
In the end, the problem was noticed: von Stofeln died of the plague, which he wrote about in his reports. In September 1770, Catherine, worried about her, preventively ordered the establishment of cordons in Serpukhov, Borovsk, Kaluga, Aleksin, Kashira, in order to prevent the infected from reaching Moscow. Alas, these measures did not help, and from November-December, patients appeared in the old (at that time) capital.
Why quarantine measures did not protect her is roughly understandable.The fact is that the population of the country was then extremely mobile and enterprising. Back in the plague epidemic of 1654-1655, it turned out that "the townspeople did not listen to the instructions of the authorities, carriers secretly transported people of all ranks bypassing …".
This happened despite the full awareness of citizens of the fact that carriers of the disease are contagious: this was known from ancient times. And one should not think that only ignoramuses from the simple class are to blame for everything. Alexander Pushkin, whom it is difficult to reproach for ignorance, himself noted that in 1830 he bypassed the cholera quarantine by giving bribes to the peasants "mobilized" to the quarantine outpost.
The reasons for such actions are mainly twofold: on the one hand, it is legal nihilism inherent in the inhabitants of our country, and on the other, ordinary egoism and the inability to limit oneself in one's desires for free movement, even knowing the consequences. Pushkin, however, had one more reason: he did not want to act like a coward ("It seemed to me cowardly to go back; I drove on, as, perhaps, you happened to go to a duel: with annoyance and great reluctance").
However, regardless of the motives, the result was the same: the quarantine did not stop the plague on its way to Moscow.
To some extent, this resembles the enchanting actions of our compatriots in February-March 2020. As you know, a significant number of them bought "last minute" tour packages to Europe, including for the weekend around March 8 - that is, at the time when sociopaths who were most isolated from society were informed about the severity of the coronavirus epidemic. As the Russian press rightly noted on February 27, 2020:
“Rospotrebnadzor, followed by Rosturizm, recommended that Russians refrain from traveling to Italy … Nevertheless, there are enough people who want to go on foreign travel. The same Italy is still among the most demanded destinations, and in general, sales of tours with early booking promotions are going well, tour operators say.
First conclusion: the attention of citizens to the recommendations of the authorities has not significantly increased since 1654. Likewise, the level of egoism has not changed.
Too soft government, too tough population
In Moscow itself, the epidemic was slow at first (due to winter). The infection got into the main military hospital (now named after Burdenko), but it was isolated, and until the outbreak there burned out, no one was released, and the hospital building, on the personal instructions of Catherine II, was burned.
Alas, in March, the infection broke out in a weaving manufactory and then began to spread throughout the city, even despite the general quarantine. In June, more than a thousand people were killed. The authorities dramatically increased the force of quarantine measures: all industrial enterprises and craft workshops, baths, shops, markets were closed.
All food supplies went through special markets in the outskirts, where there were serious distancing measures between sellers and buyers. As Catherine II wrote in the instructions for carrying out these measures:
“Between buyers and sellers to spread out big lights and make nodolbs … so that city dwellers do not touch the visitors and do not mix together; dip the money in vinegar."
At such sites, trade was carried out exclusively under the supervision of the police in strictly limited hours - the police watched so that people did not touch each other. Homeless dogs and cats were caught, all the beggars from the streets were picked up and sent to state maintenance in isolated monasteries.
To prevent the epidemic from spreading to other large cities, on the Tikhvin, Starorusskaya, Novgorod and Smolensk roads, all travelers were examined for plague buboes, fumigated, and things, letters, money were wiped with vinegar.
It seemed that the disease would soon recede. But it was not there.
The fact is that the population was, in principle, opposed to a number of anti-plague measures. The infected themselves did not want to go to any quarantine, simply spitting on the safety of others. They did not want to quarantine sick relatives - they say, it is better to be treated at home.
The belongings of the dead were supposed to be burned, but love for property did not allow Muscovites to take such "harsh" measures. Because of this, they did not even declare the dead, throwing them out into the street at night. There were no documents with photographs then, and, in fact, it was difficult to figure out where the dead came from and where his things to be burned were.
Catherine II issued a special decree "On not keeping the sick and not throwing the dead out of their homes", according to which hard labor was supposed to throw corpses into the street - but due to the small number of police in Moscow, it was difficult to implement it. The most "smart" townspeople, in order to disguise the place where the corpse was dumped, began to throw them into the water of the nearest rivers (yes, in the summer).
An additional problem was presented by a criminal element. As he should, he did not differ in special intelligence and climbed into the houses of the dead plague patients, stealing their things and, accordingly, getting sick and dying.
In general, as the historian Soloviev later summed up:
"Neither Eropkin [military governor - AB], nor anyone else could reeducate the people, suddenly instill in them the habit of a common cause, the ability to help government orders, without which the latter cannot be successful."
And here the fight against the epidemic was complicated by another problem: conspiracy theorists from the people.
Either an asteroid threat, or bacteriological warfare: what anonymus dreams of the 1770s bring to
In September 1770, among the many conspiracy theories about the disease, one spread, massively attracted by the citizens. A certain factory worker allegedly saw the Mother of God in a dream, complaining about his life (the ambiguous choice of the addressee of the complaint did not bother the people). In a dream, she said that the Bogolyubskaya icon with its image, in the area of the Barbarian gates of Kitai-Gorod, had not had prayer services for a long time.
In this regard, her son planned to arrange a meteorite bombardment in Moscow ("stone rain", as it was designated by an anonymous factory worker). But she persuaded him to soften educational measures for Muscovites to a "three-month pestilence."
The barbarian gates of Moscow, 1790s (destroyed already in the Soviet period). The icon, due to which all the fuss broke out, was on a ledge above the entrance to the tower / © Wikimedia Commons
Of course, the population began to flock in masses to the gates, over which the icon was embedded. They put up a ladder. They began to climb there and kiss her. Priests "without places" (something like homeless people who served mass for money and thus lived during the period of vagrancy) followed the population, but not for a long time, for a few days.
Archbishop Ambrose of Moscow, like all people of that time, was aware of the "stickiness" of the plague, and, moreover, he decently hated the aforementioned wandering "priests". In addition, as noted by the historian Soloviev, spontaneous prayers at the Barbarian Gate, from the church point of view of that time, were "superstition, false vision - all this is prohibited by the [Spiritual] regulations ."
Therefore, Ambrose ordered that the icon be removed to the church, where access to it would be limited, and donations in the chest under it should be given to an orphanage (children whose parents died from the epidemic were taken there).
The military governor Pavel Eropkin, however, immediately said that Ambrose was wrong: if the icon is removed, there will be a buch, but the box with money is really better to remove. With money - it was already known then - the infection is also transmitted.
Alas, even the attempt to take the box, made on September 15, 1771, caused discontent among the population. To the shouts of "The Mother of God is being robbed!" a crowd of tens of thousands gathered. More than half of them are “with cakes and stakes”. As noted by contemporaries of events, including the famous infectious disease specialist Shafonsky, lewdness began.
Having “beaten off” the money, the population pillaged and plundered the nearest monastery, the beginning of the pogroms of hospitals and the murder of medical workers, who were considered murderers. Fortunately, during the pogrom, activists discovered significant supplies of alcoholic beverages, which slowed them down until the next day.
But on the morning of September 16, the people, having slept through, rushed to look for Ambrose.When he found him, he gave him a public interrogation. Three main theses were accused of him: “Did you send to rob the Mother of God? Did you tell not to bury the dead at the churches? Have you ordered to be taken to quarantines? " Having “established” his guilt on all counts, civil activists immediately and naturally beat the archbishop to death with stakes.
19th century painting depicting the assassination of Ambrose in 1771 / © Wikimedia Commons
Such an unusual form of love for the church and its hierarchs should not be surprising: the Russian people of that era were surprisingly energetic and had extremely little faith in any authorities, including church authorities.
His own judgments on religious issues - even initiated by the dreams of some anonymous worker - he easily put above the judgments of those who, in theory, should have a little better understanding of these very religious issues.
It is difficult not to see parallels with our time here. The number of virologists from social networks, who yesterday did not know how the virion differs from the vibrio, is impressive even for our contemporaries, who, it would seem, are accustomed to the era of “experts from the Internet”.
General Eropkin, who commanded the suppression of the Plague Riot of 1771 / © Wikimedia Commons
The military governor Eropkin, to his credit, was able to deal with the rebels, despite the fact that he had only 130 people and two cannons at hand (the rest of the troops were withdrawn from the plagued city in order to minimize losses from the epidemic). He was able to recapture the Kremlin from the rebels. Along the way, about a hundred of the latter died, four of the ringleaders were subsequently executed, and the rest of the prisoners were sent to hard labor.
Conspiracy theorists of 1770 and 2020: are there any differences?
The conspiracy motives of the riot were not limited to the dream of an anonymous worker. Among the disaffected were other myths about the epidemic: for example, that quarantines from it did not help (in our time, there are also many supporters of such an idea in the case of coronavirus). Another myth was even more exotic: ostensibly, doctors pour arsenic in hospitals to both sick and healthy, and this, in fact, is the cause of mass deaths, and not at all in the plague.
Nowadays, many people also do not like quarantine measures, and therefore tend to avoid them at all costs, giving some kind of pseudo-rational explanation of their point of view.
Fortunately, less bizarre "explanations" have become popular today. For example, they say that in fact, everyone has already been ill with the new coronavirus - even in winter, autumn or even earlier, and nothing terrible has happened. It's just that then there were no tests yet, such people say, but now they are, so they are spreading panic.
Despite the less strangeness of this version compared to 1770, it is just as flimsy as the stories about arsenic. You cannot get coronavirus without a mountain of corpses (every three thousand people have already died in Spain), and it is impossible not to notice such a phenomenon as overcrowded morgues in which there are not enough places, even if you do not have any tests at all.
But the most interesting thing is that today there are those who are trying to explain the mass death of people from coronavirus by the malicious intent of bad people. Yes, just like in 1770! In a number of cities in England, 5G towers are set on fire, claiming that they are allegedly guilty of coronavirus deaths. A certain nurse who spoke on the air of a British radio station said they were "sucking the air out of their lungs."
It would seem that any "inventor" of stories about arsenic at doctors or 5G towers killing coronavirus should think about it. Well, okay, let's say it is difficult to understand that arsenic poisoning and plague have different symptoms, or that coronavirus is a virus and not radiation. You need to know what a virus is, what radiation is, and so on. That is, at least to study at school (and not to serve in it the prescribed years).
But even if we forget about physics and biology, the most important question remains: why? Why would governments, doctors and telecom operators kill people with arsenic or with towers?
A reasonable answer to this question was not recorded either in 1770 or in 2020. It's probably just too hard to find.
The victory of Catherine's quarantine and its oblivion
During the suppression of the riot, Yeropkin was twice wounded, which made him sick. Tired of the Moscow mess, Yekaterina sent there Grigory Orlov, a very dear person at that time. This was a figure who was sharply different from the usual Moscow authorities. First of all - pathological fearlessness and great energy.
Portrait of Grigory Orlov, 1770s, artist Andrey Cherny / © Wikimedia Commons
Arriving in the capital with several thousand soldiers, he first examined and counted everything. His people found there 12, 5 thousand houses, of which 3 thousand of the population died completely, and in another three thousand were infected. Quickly realizing that some of the local population was not particularly inclined to cooperate with the authorities, Orlov said bluntly about some Muscovites:
"As you look into the interior of their life, the way of thinking, so the hair stands on end, and it is surprising that even more and more bad things are not done in Moscow."
Already on September 30, 1771, Orlov proposed a different scheme for dealing with the epidemic. Firstly, people in the city began to be supplied with food - either by giving them work, or free of charge, but not relying on their funds. Secondly, he demanded that vinegar be delivered to Moscow in such quantities that there would no longer be a shortage of it either for citizens or for hospitals. Vinegar, which served as a modern sanitizer, was moderately effective in transmitting plague (although it could also have been transmitted by contact). Third, regarding the plague house looters, he announced that:
“Such atheists and enemies of the human race … will be executed without mercy by death at the very place where this crime will be committed, in order to prevent the death of one villain from the harm and death of many innocent people that are deadly from contaminated things, for in extreme evil circumstances and extreme measures are taken to heal ".
Fourthly, realizing the Russian dislike of hospitalization, Orlov ordered all those who underwent treatment in the hospital to issue 5 rubles to single and 10 to married (a very substantial sum for the non-noble class). Each informer who brought a plague man hiding from the authorities was paid 10 rubles. For the surrender of each person who has stolen stolen goods from the plague houses - 20 rubles (the cost of a herd of cows).
It was a revolutionary step that struck the local population in its weak point - the love of accumulating money. He, finally, allowed to lure all the patients who scattered in all directions and did not want to isolate themselves to places where they could hardly infect new people. Of course, it was not without overlays: many healthy people immediately declared themselves plague. Fortunately, regular check-ups by doctors have exposed imaginary patients, albeit over time.
In addition to all this, the city was divided into 27 districts. Free movement between them was prohibited. This made it possible to reduce to zero the risk of re-emergence of an outbreak of infection in those parts of Moscow where the disease "burned out". By November, the outbreak of plague in the city had practically died out. And, unlike the 1770-1771 season, the plague could not break out again in 1772.
Orlov's measures were expensive (only 400 thousand rubles, a huge amount), but effective. The epidemic is over, although it is difficult to say how many people died during this. Official figures say 57 thousand. However, Catherine II herself, who was greatly frustrated by the manner of her subjects scattering corpses in rivers and fields, believed that there could have been a hundred thousand of them (half of the population of Moscow).
If it seems to you that the death of half of Muscovites from the plague is a lot, then in vain. In the epidemic of 1654-1655, when the anti-plague quarantine measures in Moscow led people without Orlov's determination, the population decline froze anywhere in the capital did not show a figure below 77%.
In general, large cities are ideal places for an epidemic, and the larger they are, the better. Therefore, losing only half of the population from the plague - especially given the violent sabotage of quarantine by the population before Orlov's arrival - is a pretty good result.
To the north and noticeably east of the old capital, the plague did not step, and it was possible to prevent an all-Russian epidemic. Tellingly, a long quarantine (it was partially kept until the fall of 1772) did not at all lead to famine in one of the largest cities in the state.
It is a pity that today, in 2020, the same energy has not yet been shown in the isolation of the capital and its quarantine.
Alas, the experience of Catherine's suppression of the epidemic was largely forgotten. In 1830, cholera came to Russia (via Western Asia), initially flaring up on the Ganges. Interior Minister Zakrevsky instituted quarantines, but they were of little use.
As in the 17th century, for a bribe, people at quarantine outposts - recruited from peasants - calmly let those who needed farther through. That is how Pushkin got to Boldino that year, where he finished writing Eugene Onegin. Since Orlov's experience has not been studied, they did not think to introduce fees for snitching and other more stringent quarantine measures in time.
Conspiracy theorists of 1830: does anything change in the minds of our people over time?
During the cholera epidemic of 1830, the literacy rate in the empire was much higher than in 1770. Therefore, we have preserved more sources on the mood of the population, including its upper and, in theory, the most educated strata.
Let us quote the letters of one of them, a non-small employee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alexander Bulgakov. Since he surprisingly resonates with our contemporaries from social networks, we will put his quotes next to their statements:
Portrait of Alexander Bulgakov by the artist K.A. Gorbunova / © Wikimedia Commons
“September 25, 1830. We don't hear about anything else here, like about cholera, so, really, I'm tired of it. We were happy, cheerful at Princess Khovanskaya's in the evening; Obreskov appears, says that his coachman is dying with cholera, he scared all the ladies over trifles. I asked people about it. The coachman simply got drunk and vomited mercilessly.
But our contemporary writes, spring 2020:
“Severe pneumonia in coronavirus is most likely caused by a history of chronic binge drinking. It has long been known that alcohol damages the lungs.” Of course, alcohol does not actually damage the lungs, and pneumonia in coronavirus does not come from drunkenness.
Do not think that only nobles, such as Bulgakov, had a strange opinion about epidemics. Pyotr Vyazemsky (pictured) writes about the moods of the common people during the outbreak of 1830: “At the lower social levels, cholera inspired not so much fear as distrust. The commoner … does not come to terms with the reality of natural disasters: he attributes them to human malice or to some secret types of authorities. The people thought that cholera was a doctor's or Polish pretext”/ © Wikimedia Commons
But both Bulgakov from 1830 and a person from our time are tired of infectious topics. In addition, like everything unfamiliar, thoughts on this topic are labor intensive. It is much easier to reduce everything to closer and more understandable topics. Show that it is not a matter of obscure new diseases, but of traditional problems such as drunkenness.
Let's continue to compare the conspiracy theories of Bulgakov and our time. A diplomat from a bygone era was very reluctant to admit the idea that cholera was a real threat. Therefore, I wrote:
“October 2, 1830. But I still don't believe in cholera. On the streets, they catch everyone drunk and half-drunk (and they drink a lot, it's a glorious occasion from grief), take them to hospitals, and tramps as well. All of these are considered sick. The doctors support that they said before: their benefit, so that it was said that through their efforts cholera was destroyed. What will happen, God knows, but I still see ordinary diseases that happen every year at this time from cucumbers, cabbage stumps, apples, and so on. I'm not the only one who thinks so … ".
Let's compare with today:
“For three days I have been calling clinics in those cities where it is indicated that there are people infected with this fierce coronavirus. So far, unfortunately, except for ridicule - "hee-hee", yes "ha-ha", I have not heard anything.I concluded for myself that until I personally see at least one infected person, I will not wear a mask."
“The coronavirus is absolutely safe, and“strange pneumonia”kills, but it is not diagnosed. And the coronavirus is absolutely safe. But an expensive test has been developed for him. And this is a successful business. And under the pretext of a supposedly dangerous coronavirus, absolute chaos can be organized. I don’t know how it’s in Europe, but in St. Petersburg and Moscow only those who have returned from Italy, Spain or other Switzerland are caught. For the most part, these are very wealthy people with whom you can easily negotiate a relaxation of quarantine for an additional fee. And this is an even more successful business."
“October 3, 1830. In the palace, before being admitted upstairs, there is a large proforma: you need to pour chlorine water on your hands and rinse your mouth. " Proforma is a formal action that does not make sense, and this is exactly what Bulgakov considers disinfection of hands, despite the fact that cholera is spread by unwashed hands.
"The most educated man of his time," as his contemporaries called him, continues:
“I still interpret mine that there is no cholera. It has been proven that only drunkards, gluttons, emaciated people and those who catch a bad cold die die”.
After a week of mass deaths, Bulgakov gradually began to believe in the disease, but still offered her conspiracy explanations, believing the authorities' ideas on this topic to be nonsense:
“October 11, 1830. Let us suppose that they die with cholera, and not with ordinary autumn diseases; but we see that in our class not a single one has yet died with this imaginary cholera, but everything among the people. Why? … Therefore, mortality from intemperance, drunkenness, poor or excessive food."
Fedotov's painting "All cholera is to blame!" he also sneers at the severity of the epidemics of this disease in the 19th century: a drunken citizen fell, but attempts to attribute this to cholera, according to the artist, are hardly substantiated. It is not entirely clear in the picture only why the two women in the background are torturing the cat / © Wikimedia Commons
And here is our contemporary: (we apologize for his Russian language, as you understand, since 1830 mistakes among those who know how to write began to occur much more often)
“Among the number of infected, the main indicator is what %% in a particular city of the declared element…. In Paris, despite the quarantine, there are crowds of Arabs and blacks. In Frankfurt, too. Those. these are people who, due to their age, are less susceptible to the acute form of the disease - but they are actively spreading it."
It turns out that the "good" classes do not get sick, or at least do not spread the virus, but the "bad", declassed elements, as well as Arabs and Negroes, do it. Of course, this is nonsense, not supported by any scientific evidence. But it is extremely informative that this nonsense is steadily reproduced in completely different eras.
However, one should not think that the opinion “it is not our class that carries the disease” is peculiar only to Bulgakov or to those who do not like blacks from our time. The same Bulgakov mentions:
“October 19, 1830. Favst was told that at the hospital in the Smolensk market, they found the following inscription nailed and sealed from four corners: "If the German doctors do not stop plaguing the Russian people, then we will pave Moscow with their heads!" If this is not the intent of ill-intentioned people, it is still a harmful prank. " The paradox is that in 1830 most of the doctors in Russia are no longer Germans, but, as they say, the people have not yet reorganized.
Even on New Year's Eve, Bulgakov still believes that all quarantines need to be lifted:
During the cholera riot in St. Petersburg, Nicholas I personally went to the square to the rioters and told them: “Yesterday atrocities were committed here, the general order was violated. It is a shame for the Russian people, having forgotten the faith of their fathers, to imitate the riot of the French and Poles. " It is said that the shamed people fell to their knees and repented. Ill-wishers add that the king accompanied the calls to repentance with abundant use of expressive vocabulary / © Wikimedia Commons
"Disease is a strong wind, against which all cordons are useless." Of course, in reality, cholera is not transmitted by airborne droplets, and the authorities were right in arranging quarantines, although they were wrong in the lack of rigidity of their implementation.
Do you think the whole point is that at the time of Bulgakov, science still knew little, and only the authorities managed to understand that quarantines were needed? Well, then let's take a look at our time. Yulia Latynina and Novaya Gazeta publish material with the subtitle:
"Why quarantine cannot contain the pandemic, and why the Russian authorities do not really want to."
Recall: on March 23, 2020, quarantine in China has already de facto stopped the coronavirus. How can Yulia Leonidovna say that quarantine cannot contain it, if it has already kept it? It's very simple: without mentioning the Chinese experience in general in your text.
The second, seemingly more complicated question: why, in her opinion, the Russian authorities are not planning to fight the epidemic? Well, this is more difficult for you, but Yulia Leonidovna does not have difficult questions at all:
“Apart from cosmetic measures, the coronavirus epidemic in Russia will not be contained. The coronavirus kills the elderly and the sick, not the young and healthy. Old people and sick people will die out according to the most severe scenario, and an immune layer will quickly form in the country … By the way, from the economic point of view, this is an absolutely correct strategy."
Due to the obvious weaknesses of this logical chain, there is no need to analyze it.
Part of the population of our country in 1830 suspected that the epidemic was just a hoax. This is how A. Bashutsky describes their behavior: “People started stopping pedestrians everywhere … ransacking their pockets. Finding powders, flasks … the rabble often forced the captured immediately to swallow his entire pharmacy. Seeing the undoubtedly harmful effect of both fright and such medication, the people became even more convinced of the existence of poisoning. The poor victims of the concern for self-preservation were beaten mercilessly, and many even paid with their lives. " As we can see, the love for experimental testing of the effectiveness of drugs was in our people already 190 years ago / © Wikimedia Commons
But another passage from her article is worth reading more closely: “In the end, it could have been worse. They could have locked everyone in a hospital that looked like a concentration camp, where everyone would have gotten sick for sure, so that they could feed Prigozhin's breakfasts at budgetary expense."
Do you understand? The candidate of sciences from 2020 believes that it is good that the Russian authorities will not treat or protect their population in any way, because if they were treating it, it would only be locked up in a concentration camp, where everyone would surely get sick.
How does this point of view differ from the killer doctors from the views of illiterate Muscovites in 1770? How does this differ from "If the German doctors do not cease to plague the Russian people, then we will pave Moscow with their heads!" from 1830?
The correct answer is only by replacing the word "doctors" with the word "authorities". Nothing more. The mental evolution of the population of Russia over the past quarter of a thousand years, apparently, was insufficient to significantly change its ability to generate the most ridiculous conspiracy theories.
A serious question arises: how did this happen? Why did we introduce universal literacy, universal schools, universities? Why, finally, did Yulia Leonidovna and a host of others like her from the educated class receive their Ph.D. degrees? To repeat the stories of people from 1770 in a new way? People with stakes in their hands, but without a single education class in their heads? Why has education never allowed a significant portion of our population to become smarter?
Probably the main answer to this question is the words "specialization" and "civilization". Thirteen thousand years ago, one hunter went to hunt a bear and did everything right, he made only one small mistake. And that's all - he died immediately.
In 2020, a person who often makes even gross mistakes rarely dies from them.No, of course, there are individuals licking the rims of the toilet bowls to prove that the coronavirus does not exist (we are not putting a photo, but there is a link for those with strong stomachs).
However, epidemics of new coronaviruses are rare. But there are many people whose mental abilities allow them to lick the rim of the toilet bowl and perform similar feats. On a planetary scale, perhaps tens of millions.
If we are not talking about a disease that we have not yet coped with, basically modern society protects from death even the most dense conspiracy theorists like Yulia Leonidovna and others like her. It is enough to be able to do at least something specialized so that society pays money to a person, even if in all other areas he does not behave in the most reasonable way.
This means that over time, people who do not adequately respond to new threats - the coronavirus epidemic or any other atypical event - will only become more numerous. Already, we see clinical conspiracy theorists burning 5G towers because they fail to grasp the lack of a link between radio waves and pneumonia.
If our species' approach to specialization does not change, in another 250 years, weird people will be encountered more often. That is, with any unexpected new threat in society, there will be much more of those who react to it completely inadequately. Perhaps this should be taken into account for the future: the current crisis is clearly not the last one.
But the deepening of specialization also has a positive side. If in 1770 civil activists with stakes could easily defeat Moscow and drive a few police units around it, today this is rather doubtful. Civilization has removed physical activity from the townspeople, and today the majority of the population of Moscow with stakes in their hands is even safer than without them.
Indeed, rebellion requires not only good physical shape, but also volitional qualities, which are rarely observed in the average person of our time. Much less common than his ancestors in 1770. Therefore, you can relax and not be too afraid of a new coronavirus riot in 2020.