So far outside the box you can't even see the box from here.
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Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Science, bad science and ignorance
There are a lot unknowns about the current outbreak of Ebola. It's made the jump from isolated villages to densely packed urban areas. It appears to be spreading faster than previous outbreaks. Since more people have become infected there's been more opportunity for the virus to mutate.
There are systematic methods of separating speculation from fact. It's called science. It's methodical and painstaking. It might not always get things right, but science is supposed to correct for that. Observation and experiment provide information and a better understanding is arrived at.
Unfortunately what we've seen recently is a lot of bad science. People want to know what's going on and they don't want to wait. Because of that demand there's been a lot of bad science floating around. Theories are promoted as fact. Anecdotal stories are given the same weight as large case studies. Sensational stories, no matter how badly researched, are promoted over more balanced reporting.
Then we have outright ignorance. Science is hard. Books have to be read. Work has to be done. Pay offs take time. Too many idiots on TV are ignorant about what's going on and seem to believe ignorance is a good as knowledge. Maybe we can blame bad science for at least part of that attitude. When I see ignorance and fear being used instead of science, I get a bit ticked off. Unreasoning panic helps no one. Ignorance and prejudice are bad combinations. That's how during the 14th century plagues the Jews ended up being blamed and persecuted. Never mind that they were suffering as much as everyone else.
We are going to need more good science. Thanks to science we have ways of dealing with horrible infectious diseases. If the disease has changed, good scientific practices will eventually figure out what to do. That is, if we decided to provide the resources to make it happen. Ignorance is cheap, at least in the short term. In the long term, it could be fatal.
I live in an area of NH known as the Great North Woods. I'm in my dome-i-cile out in the county with my lovely wife and a varying number of family and friends
-part red neck, part hippie but all country. Experimenting and enjoying the adventure of life.