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CLASSICAL  December 2005

CLASSICAL December 2005

Subject:

Re: Beethoven's Death

From:

Bert Bailey <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 10 Dec 2005 18:40:43 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (37 lines)

Regarding the recent scientific determination that posted by Larry
Sherwood...

>>Beethoven died of lead poisoning.

...Bernard says:

>...that there is room for agnosticism.  The experimenters did the only
>thing they were equipped to do: analyze hair and fragments of remains for
>abundance of various elements.  We accept a diagnosis from your doctor
>based only on the elements in your hair?

Why not?  If the subject passed on about 2 centuries ago and a more
complete cadaver or other physical material are absent, but for some
more plausible alternative the only response to this is: Yes!

But maybe Bernard has an eye on another alternative: Beethoven's system
was poisoned all right, but he actually died of VD ...or something else.
Without such an account, and one that's more convincing, as it stands
this sounds like the jurors at OJ's trial: simply denying the data.

After all, archaeologists use the fossilized remains of dinosaur eggs
and excrement to conjecture about a whole range of things.  Also, data
on lead poisoning, safety limits regarding its intake by humans, the
reliability of lead levels in the hair as indicators, and molecule-counting
technologies, etc., are broadly reliable science.  Is there some reason
to doubt such generalizations and tests, or are they wanting or fall
second to a more plausible account?  If so, it seems to me that the onus
rests on the skeptic to show how and why.

Maybe 200 years from now there'll be more reliable techniques, of course.
Let's hope some of Beethoven's hair will remain then, since without
another body part or some startling new evidence, including documentation
that helps to unmask something or someone else, it's likely to come down
to an analysis of that hair yet again.

Bert Bailey

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