In Cold Pursuit

About  In Cold Pursuit

This history of scientific investigation into the surprising nature and behaviour of Common Colds was researched and written over a period of 12 years. It was published in 1998, five years after Gilmore retired. The book was published by Stoddart Publishing Ltd.. in Toronto. Stoddart is no longer in business, and this title is now out of print. A very few new and uncirculated copies of this book are available from the author. Used copies of this book are still for sale on the web, and many larger libraries have copies of it in their stacks.

The introduction to this books begins as follows:

We all have our own theories about how we “catch” the common cold. We say: “I caught a chill.” “I sat next to a man with a nasty cold on the train.” Or, “the weather changed suddenly” But the common cold does not work they way most of us think that it does, the way it first appears to work. This discovery has by turns surprised, confounded, entranced, and informed a long list of medical investigators, men and women who have devoted significant portions of their research careers to making sense of this familiar but puzzling illness. In their quest to understand how the common cold works, these medical sleuths have traveled to locales that are warm and cold, continental and oceanic, isolated and crowded. Moreover, they have won some teasing glimpses into how we really do catch our colds. In this book we will retrace medicine’s historical journey of discovery, a journey that will take us twice around the world and in the process will allow us to explore a number of scientific curiosities and paradoxes.

Two hundred eighty-three pages later, this book ends with a discussion about “illusions of insight”, and in this case about the illusion that we see at last the scientific truth that we have been seeking about what is and is not true for common colds. The author has to admit there are still some serious problems with those theories he now believes are true about colds. The book then concludes with this short paragraph:

You probably recognized similar responses and biases in yourself as you studied this intelligence report. No doubt you have your own pet data, your own pet theories, and your own prime suspects in this little drama of petty illness. Perhaps for a time, like me, you may take to your bed to read, with the hope that soon your head will clear and the truth will emerge triumphant. To you then, as to all of us, I say: get well soon.