“You can’t improve on nature…”

Nineteen hundred and three will bring great advances in surgery, in the study of bacteria, in the knowledge of the cause and prevention of disease. Medicine is played out. Every new discovery of bacteria shows us all the more convincingly that we have been wrong and that the million tons of stuff we have taken was all useless. The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will instruct his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease…. Surgery, diet, antiseptics — these three are the vital things of the future in preserving the health of humanity. There were never so many able, active minds at work on the problems of diseases as now, and all their discoveries are tending to the simple truth — that you can’t improve on nature.

– Thomas Edison, 1903

HT: @jdelbarton

“He who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me”

Thomas Jefferson had some specific thoughts about the unnaturalness of intellectual property:

If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.

Unfortunately, modern politicians disagree with TJ. Only last week, I had naively suggested the state couldn’t figure out how to drive innovators away from the Internet. I was wrong:

There is, however, an influential group of people that rejoices at the passing of this type of legislation.