I wonder what would have happened if antibiotics existed earlier, like in the Middle Ages. What do you think would have changed?


closed as too broad by ArtOfCode, Jason Hutchinson, MichaelHouse, DaaaahWhoosh, AndreiROM Feb 19 '16 at 18:46

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ This is off-topic. We can't answer what-if questions because of their overly subjective nature. $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode Feb 19 '16 at 18:24
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    $\begingroup$ I think its on topic but just a little overbroad. Effects on what warfare, economics, government. Each would be a good question. $\endgroup$ – sdrawkcabdear Feb 19 '16 at 18:35
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    $\begingroup$ You can easily make your question on-topic by asking about a specific thing that could have changed. From our help page, on-topic questions could be Effects of events or world elements, including biology, technology and magic, on specific aspects of that world's societies, cultures, and environment. So you can ask how society or culture would have changed with such an event, but not just "what happens?". $\endgroup$ – Samuel Feb 19 '16 at 18:36
  • $\begingroup$ Don't give up! Just think about your universe a little bit (such as WHEN in the middle ages they were discovered, which antibiotic, etc) and go from there! $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Feb 19 '16 at 18:46
  • $\begingroup$ What @Samuel said. What this question needs is to focus on something specific. State a year when antibiotics were discovered, and ask how that might affect some specific aspect of the world. That would be answerable. "What would have changed?" given some vaguely described change like "antibiotics discovered in the middle ages" is, unfortunately, too broad, because there are just too many possible answers and each of those would need to go into far more depth than we can reasonably expect people to do. The operative words from the help center article are specific aspects. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Feb 19 '16 at 20:19

Worldbuiding is a site dedicated to the problems which writers encounter when they invent their fictional worlds, be it for a novel, a game, or whatever. It does not deal with the real world, and it does not help people to come up with ideas in the first place. You are a new member, so I'll try to give an answer anyway.

  • Antibiotics have to be mass produced in reasonable quantity at reasonable prices to have a large impact. Are you assuming that pharmaceutical factories exist, or are you assuming that they are not necessary to get antibiotics? For instance, there could be a natural source in a plant.
  • Antibiotics alone won't improve healthcare. Will there be a soap supply? Germ theory of disease? Sewage treatment plants?
  • Incorrectly applied, antibiotics breed resistant germs. Can the people read the instructions?

For these reasons, I believe that there would be a minor reduction of mortality from sickness, but not enough to bring sweeping changes. The upper classes will benefit most. The random survival of some prince or princess could lead to sweeping changes in history, but not to changes in the economy and general quality of life.


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