George Bernard Shaw did not have a high opinion of medicine or of physicians. We think of him as the vegetarian, the "anti" who was against vivisection, against vaccination, against germ theory, against the "scientific" medicine of his day, against physicochemical explanation of disease, against fashionable practitioners. And we may tend to regard him as a crank who favored quacks at the expense of reputable medicine.
Actually, Shaw had a great deal of justification for his views. In the last half of the 19th century, medicine made a great deal of progress but it made many false steps as well, and in some important areas failed to take any steps at all. Shaw was aware of this. He realized truly that a great deal of humbug masqueraded as science. He saw clearly—as had Virchow long before him—that medicine and health are problems of sociology and economics as well as of