So, the century old understandings about what causes disease are often wrong. Which is why I suggested taking a different, hopefully non-intuitive, view on the mythology of disease. Following the idea of "a lifeform that spreads through contagion" certainly helps the players grasp themes and concepts you might want in the story, but for the Western world, this is a Renaissance-era idea. Note that the first written record of the theory that disease can transmit from one host to another was in about 1000AD.
Also of note:
I would point out that many hygienic practices <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hygiene>have been incorporated into cultures as taboos, with the reason for the forbidden behavior long forgotten (e.g. kosher food practices). However the most basic hygienic practices, such as keeping feces off of food, has certainly been understood for about all of human history. The fact that this idea triggers a reflexive disgust-response from people suggests that it might be hardwired.
I would hazard a guess that this is not the only modern concept that has found its way into Glorantha. We are often not entirely cognizant of the memes that shape our understanding of The Way Things Are. But this shows how successful decades-long education programs can be...
On Tue, Dec 30, 2008 at 1:55 PM, <donald_at_3XRIyGsjmap6wn81Pqn686T3udDR_j_McpLmM2MUvCM0YLXQgx-GTw9cMk4I4o1SUcOutgm1sGeOAarHQc5iq_NsQg.yahoo.invalid> wrote:
> You don't need a modern understanding of pathogens to know what
> behaviours cause disease. The earliest scientific studies of disease
> are less than 200 years old. The practice of poisoning wells by
> dumping dead bodies in them goes back centuries as does hurling
> corpses into beseiged cities. So we can be reasonably sure that
> any taboos a society has are based on observed behaviour. Rather
> than using modern terminology I take the view that in Glorantha
> bad hygine practices encourage disease spirits to remain nearby.
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