Tag Archives: disease
Information, and Misinformation, About Ebola
Much is now being written about ebola, for obvious reasons. I previously addressed the subject, on this blog, before the news became flooded with ebola-stories (my post was made in late July), and I did so mathematically (because that’s the way I am), right here: https://robertlovespi.wordpress.com/2014/07/31/a-graph-of-infections-and-deaths-during-the-first-four-months-of-the-2014-ebola-outbreak/.
While I am pleased that ebola is now getting more attention in the media, I am not at all pleased about the continuing spread of this epidemic — and am also utterly horrified by the misinformation being disseminated, by many writers, on the subject. Some of what is now being written makes sense, but much of it does not. Here are four examples of logical, and well-written, information on this timely subject:
By contrast, the three articles which follow are, well, not helpful at all. They either are hysterical nonsense, or are helping spread hysterical nonsense. Neither of these things benefit anyone.
B. http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/993247-ebola-zombies-article-says-3rd-person-rose-from-the-dead-still-false/ (only “likely false,” according to the opening sentence)
I enjoy zombie movies as much as anyone, but let’s be clear on this: people who have died from ebola do not rise from the dead! Also, no, the ebola viruses were not created deliberately for genocidal purposes, or any other purpose. Conspiracy theories, on any subject, are all false, for one simple reason: large-scale conspiracies require many human beings to keep real information (as opposed to misinformation) secret, for long periods of time, and that simply doesn’t happen. As an old saying puts it, “three men can keep a secret — if two of them are dead.”
There is an out-of-control ebola epidemic raging in several African nations, and a real risk exists of widespread outbreaks forming on other continents, since cases already exist in both North America and Europe. However, there is also a second problem: we are already in the middle of a worldwide ebola panic. This second problem will not help with the first problem — at all. In fact, the exact opposite is true.
What will help? Rational, clear thinking — as well as deliberate, well-considered, intelligent, rapid, and well-funded action. The unfortunate truth is that no such action happened much earlier, but that error cannot be unmade, for time travel into the past is physically impossible. What is possible is for intelligent action to be taken now.
What will not help? Hysteria, panic, superstition, ignorance, greed, the “blame game,” and, especially, old-fashioned human stupidity.
How does one separate the “wheat from the chaff” — or, in this case, the real information from the misinformation? I know of only a few ways to do this: think about what you read, and think, then rethink, about what you write (and then post on the Internet) — and, if you don’t know what you’re talking about, well . . . just shut up. Please.
A Graph of Infections and Deaths During the First Four Months of the 2014 Ebola Outbreak
Source of data for this graph: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-31/ebola-timeline-deadliest-outbreak/5639060.
The date I used as “day zero,” March 25, 2014, is the day when the Ministry of Health in Guinea announced an outbreak of ebola was in progress, according to this source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebola_2014. It started earlier, of course, but was not widely known before that date. The last data points shown are for July 27, 2014, the most recent date for which I have the needed information.