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First of all, you have to understand that the typographical requirements of APA, MLA, dissertation requirements, and many other such tightly specified style guides were all conceived in the era of typewriters, and usually haven't changed much since.Many strange details start making more sense when you realize that.
I’m going to try to put an end to the argument here. But the use of double spaces (or other exaggerated spacing) after a period is a typographic convention with roots that far predate the typewriter.
Origins Traditional wisdom on the subject asserts that using two word spaces after sentences is left over from the days of the typewriter. It’s a fact that people who first learned typing on a typewriter were indeed taught that you should always use two spaces after a sentence-ending period. The first commercially available typewriters — the only ones that could arguably have been influential enough to change typographic habits — didn’t appear until the 1860s.
It’s the debate that refuses to die: Do you set one word space or two after a period?
In all my years of writing about type, it’s still the question I hear most often, and a search of the web will find threads galore on the subject.
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Disruptive by modern standards, they were all the rage when this was originally set, back in 1774. The spacing used to justify these lines from Bembo’s 1495 work De Aetna is pretty irregular.
But the spaces between sentences are much bigger than a single word space, and they carry the brunt of the work of filling out the lines.
In the early days of handset type, having the flexibility to exaggerate the spaces between sentences must have been a boon to quickly setting justified type.
And Aldus Manutius was famous as a thrifty, profit-conscious printer.