Monday, October 20, 2014

Fear Factor - The Pseudo Reality

In the days halcyon days of the cold war, before global warming, the DNC ran an ad now known as “The Daisy Ad.” Take a moment to watch it. Some of you, gentle readers, will remember the ad. I did. Vividly. Others of you probably don’t even know what the cold war was, and will need to better understand why this was terrifying when it was broadcast in 1964. The Cuban Missile Crisis was recent history. Countries were racing to develop their own nuclear arsenals. We were doing duck-and-cover drills along with fire drills at school.

Eventually, it became pretty clear that nuclear winter was a serious byproduct of actually using nuclear weapons and sane thought prevailed. Not that everyone is signed on to SALT and other arms treaties, but generally speaking, we have a clear idea of what constitutes fallout. Of course, when you have children like Kim Jong Il running a country, ll bets are off. 

Face it; fear sells. Even cartoonist James Gillray, back in 1802, was scaring people away from the new cowpox vaccine. And if you think that's just a bunch of silliness, there are a whole lotta people who aren't vaccinating their kids because they refuse to believe the science that goes with vaccination, and are relying on everyone else for herd immunity. But once again, I digress.

The following appeared in Congressclown Kline's email missive this weekend:
Conducting Oversight on the Ebola Epidemic
Nearly 9,000 people have been afflicted with Ebola since the outbreak began, and more than 4,000 have died as a result. My prayers go out to the health care professionals who have contracted Ebola here at home and those impacted by the virus around the globe. In an effort to address this crisis, the House of Representatives has been conducting hearings to assess the federal government’s response. As these oversight efforts progress, I will continue to monitor the situation and any relevant legislation that comes before the House.
This is the only reference to Ebola in the newsletter. Nowhere does he mention the outbreak is in Africa. He neglects to mention only 2 health care professionals have tested positive, and that the lack of protocol was unique to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where the original carrier was initially released back into the population without being properly tested for the virus. The two nurses who have contracted the disease will, in all likelihood, be just fine. Mr. Duncan, the original patient from Liberia, was not treated in a timely manner and died. Hmmmmm. Who owns this one?

About 3000 Americans died from the flu last year. Is anyone blaming the President for their deaths? Over 40,000 Americans died last year from preventable diseases including diabetes, measles and whooping cough, so where are the politicians raving about that? Do you see Congressclown Kline or any of his co-clowns-in-crisis jumping up and down about AIDs which still kills thousands of people in this country each year? 

And lest we forget, more than 30,000 of We, the People died from gunshot wounds last year. Wanna talk about sensible gun laws?

This really isn't about Ebola, is it? Nope; it's about fear. It's just that simple. Not that Ebola isn't is....but not nearly as dire as the very real threat of influenza and guns. 

But fear sells papers and increases ratings. Half truths are easier to glom onto than real truth. Just ask the guy in the restaurant who called for an ambulance because he caught Ebola from a pilot:
911 Operator: Sir, sir, listen to me. There's an airline pilot there and he told you he had Ebola?

Caller: Yes, he has been exposed. He came out of West Africa.

911 Operator: He came from West Africa?

Caller: From a European environment. Yep he has.
911 Operator: You said you were exposed?
Caller: I'm sitting next to him. And he has been on a flight from European countries.
911 Operator: Is it just that you've been exposed, or are you having any of the symptoms?
Caller: I'm sitting next to him and having dinner. And he just revealed that he's been in the European countries, including west Africa.
911 Operator: Ok, and are you having any chills or sweats?
Caller: I am not exposed. I am not having any indications.   
Fort Worth, TX 911 call
Really? How did this guy come to this conclusion without help from the media? And how did the media manage to spin this into a giant rumor mill without politicians spouting off nonsense? 

Let's be real clear: travel bans are not going to stop the virus. And the odds of West Africans traveling to Mexico in order to cross the border into the US is also a rather far-fetched scenario. As is the one about the ISIS fighters who are going to infect themselves with Ebola and then come to this country to spread the disease. What are they going to do? Pee on people? Barf in subways and then throw it like monkeys throwing poo in zoos? 

So as a public service, here are some things you need to know about Ebola:
  1. Ebola is an RNA-type virus. It is extremely infectious, but not extremely contagious.
  2. Ebola is not airborne, like the flu or measles. 
  3. Ebola is not contracted through casual contact. Like AIDs, you can become infected by being in direct contact with bodily fluids from an infected person, or handling contaminated items like bedding or clothing.
  4. Ebola is treatable when caught in early stages. 
The endless barrage of nonsense about Ebola is here to scare you. The non-facts are repeated and repeated until you are tempted to believe the President and his administration are not doing their jobs when, in fact, they are allowing the experts to do theirs. Could they do more? Maybe. Would there be a massive change to contagion management if they instituted travel bans and temperature tests at the airport? No. 

So here's the bottom line: don't listen to anyone trying to scare you. They are after your vote, not your well-being. The talking heads and the political hacks are using this the same way they used the Affordable Care Act death panels, ISIL/ISIS, and immigration. It's the crisis du jour. Ignore them. They make up stuff. If you're reading this, you're already smarter than they are and shouldn't be taken in by their baloney.

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Waiting for something exciting to happen can make a week feel like forever. 


  1. I have a feeling BDS is going to be strangely silent about this outrage:

  2. Trust but verify.

    The CDC has been wrong quite a bit so far. Do you think the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy is trying to scare you or is it trying to protect those most at risk? Read the articles and decide whom you believe. The WSJ reported that there is currently space for nine patients at four US hospitals designed to handle Ebola cases. The US is woefully underprepared to handle an outbreak even if the odds are very small one will happen.

    "There has been a lot of on-line and published controversy about whether Ebola virus can be transmitted via aerosols. Most scientific and medical personnel, along with public health organizations, have been unequivocal in their statements that Ebola can be transmitted only by direct contact with virus-laden fluids2,3 and that the only modes of transmission we should be concerned with are those termed "droplet" and "contact."

    These statements are based on two lines of reasoning. The first is that no one located at a distance from an infected individual has contracted the disease, or the converse, every person infected has had (or must have had) "direct" contact with the body fluids of an infected person.

    This reflects an incorrect and outmoded understanding of infectious aerosols, which has been institutionalized in policies, language, culture, and approaches to infection control. We will address this below. Briefly, however, the important points are that virus-laden bodily fluids may be aerosolized and inhaled while a person is in proximity to an infectious person and that a wide range of particle sizes can be inhaled and deposited throughout the respiratory tract."

  3. Thank you for saying what needs to be said... if chicken little were still around the sky would indeed be falling