Anthony Jurado and Nessa B. Wilson of Cracked wrote an article about five scientists who are respected today, but were considered fools in their own time. These include the physician Ignaz Semmelweis, who suggested that doctors should wash their hands after handling dead bodies in order to resist spreading infections:
Semmelweis didn’t just have the disregard of his contemporaries, he had their flat-out scorn. Maybe it was because he didn’t get around to explaining himself on paper right away, so no one understood what hand-washing had to do with keeping people alive. Some doctors were actually insulted that he was accusing Viennese medical students being dirty enough to kill people.
Within 14 years of his groundbreaking discovery, Semmelweis just stopped giving a [redacted -- ed.]. He got drunk all the time and called all his detractors “ignoramuses” and “murderers.” He started chilling with prostitutes and lashing out at family. That last part proved to be a bad move, because in 1865 they had him committed to an insane asylum, where he was promptly beat up and stuck in a dark cellar.
He died two weeks later. It took another 20 years and Louis Pasteur’s germ theory for the rest of the world to come around to the concept of washing your hands to keep from getting sick.
Link | Image: Prince George’s Community College