Martin A. Couney was not your typical Progressive Era American doctor.
For one thing, Couney may not have been an officially-approved doctor.
He said that he’d studied under Dr Pierre-Constant Budin. Maybe he had. But if so, he’d have been very young when he did.
Couney revised his origin story rather often. That, changing his name at least once, and at-best-sparse documentation makes sorting out his history challenging.
Here’s what we know and can reasonably guess about his story.
Martin A. Couney was born in Poland, and named Michael Cohen.
Ideally, his name wouldn’t have been a problem.
But — I keep saying this — we don’t live in an ideal world.
Another point against Couney — by his era’s standards — was his attitude toward premature infants.
He thought keeping them alive made sense. This was in direct conflict with late Progressive Era eugenic ideals.
I think American Better Baby Contests and other efforts to standardize Americans and American life were well-intentioned. I also think that there’s more to life than efficiency.
Which doesn’t mean that efficiency is a basically bad idea, or that curing disease and dealing with disabilities is wrong.
Then there was Christine Frederick’s quest to promote American prosperity by encouraging standardized kitchens and shoddy consumer goods.1 “Planned obsolescence” sounds so much nicer.
Designing kitchens that work makes sense to me.
So does standardization: as a general principle. In practice — I married a woman who is five-foot-nothing. I don’t think she married me because I can (usually) reach standardized kitchen cabinets, and that’s another topic.
Maybe I’ll get back to Couney’s groundbreaking notion of using egg incubator tech to keep babies from dying.
And why I don’t entirely agree with Frederick’s idea that the good old-fashioned ‘buy, break, buy and break again’ philosophy.
But if I do, I’ll be doing it during another day.
A tip of the hat, by the way, to number-one daughter — Brigid, online, mostly — for showing me this ‘sideshow baby incubator’ video:
And, finally, the usual list of related(?) stuff:
- “Health Care Directive”
(November 24, 2019)
- “Brains and Ethics”
(May 2, 2018)
- “Disorders, Decisions”
(November 19, 2017)
- “Editing Genes, Ethically”
(August 18, 2017)
- “Bioethics and a Three-Parent Baby”
(October 7, 2016)