How alarmist, racist coverage of Ebola makes things worse. A dressing down of the latest #NewsweekFail.
Thanks Washington Post on writing about everything that made me question the Newsweek’s cover story, “Smuggled bushmeat is Ebola’s Back Door.” I only put Newsweek’s link so you can read how ignorant some people are about this disease.
Two main things:
- Bushmeat = wild game.
- Fruit bats, NOT chimpanzees, are thought to be the reservoir for Ebola.
That is all.
I try really hard not to argue on the internet, but that Newsweek piece is enraging.
A lot of things are possible in this world, but that does not make them probable. Risk is never zero, but come on. You are probably more likely to die in the backseat of a Ford Pinto rear ended by a Google driverless car while we chase tornados.
This kind of paranoid cover story serves absolutely nobody. It makes people terrified, and that’s it.
Here’s a similar piece from The Telegraph in London, which suggests that bush meat was “almost certainly” responsible for the outbreak currently ravaging parts of west Africa (it was actually caused by a boy’s contact with an infected bat).
Please, someone, show me the data. Has there been a single example of Ebola spreading to other countries via contaminated food?
No? Then GTFO.
It is true that illegally imported bushmeat presents some food safety concerns, and it is also true that some types of bushmeat are suspected vectors for Ebola. (The second, smaller Ebola outbreak going on right now in DR Congo seems to have been started when a woman butchered the carcass of an unspecified “bush animal” that had died and was given to her husband.)
But the odds don’t add up. In fact, they multiply. And what happens when you multiply fractions?
Here’s what you do: you take the tonnage of bushmeat butchered in Ebola-endemic regions of Africa each year, the fraction of that meat that is even of Ebola-carrying species, the fraction of meat from those species that are likely to be contaminated, the fraction of those meats that are exported, the fraction of those exports that wind up in the United States, the fraction of those that are mishandled or cooked impoperly. Multiply those numbers together and what do you get: me giving you the middle finger.
And yet, as the Post points out:
Fear-mongering narratives about Ebola circulating in the popular media can also have a serious effect on knowledge and attitudes about Ebola. Though there are no cases of person-to-person infection in the United States, a recent poll conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health reports 39 percent of Americans think there will be a large Ebola outbreak in the United States and more than a quarter of Americans are concerned that they or someone in their immediate family may get sick with Ebola in the next year. A similar poll conducted for Reason-Rupe had four in 10 Americans saying an Ebola outbreak in the United States was likely, and conservative Americans were more likely to say an outbreak was likely. These two national surveys show Americans are grossly overestimating their risk of infection.
Ugh. Either people have never heard of a disease (e.g. Chagas, Nipah, Lassa, Chikungunya, Trypanosomiasis) or else it’s killing them tomorrow. Fucking hell.
And that’s just on the public health side. As the Post piece points out, what this kind of shit does for perceptions about immigrants, African culture, and the wide wide world outside of U.S. borders is even worse. Shameful.
That’s pretty D&D for a fancy car.
via Armin Vit
In a striking number of animated kids’ movies of the past couple of decades (coincidental with the resurgence of Disney and the rise of Pixar and DreamWorks), the dead mother is replaced not by an evil stepmother but by a good father. He may start out hypercritical (Chicken Little) or reluctant (Ice Age). He may be a tyrant (The Little Mermaid) or a ne’er-do-well (Despicable Me). He may be of the wrong species (Kung Fu Panda). He may even be the killer of the child’s mother (Brother Bear). No matter how bad he starts out, though, he always ends up good.
He doesn’t just do the job, he’s fabulous at it.
The cartoon dead mother thing is a perpetual joke in my house, but this brutal knockout of an essay really takes it to another level.
Tonight’s Meltdown poster. This is the most colors (9) and most relaxed penguin I’ve ever pulled. There’s a lot of weird stuff in this world but nobody told that little guy. So - shhhh. The names of the performers are on the side of the ice floes. Promise. #meltdownposter #screenprinting #penguin
Goddamn that is some lovely business right here. Sweet three color gradient!
Dracula, discovering he has multidrug-resistant gonnorhea.
Good job, Florida mom!
A fungus called Cryptococcus gattii can cause life-threatening infections, especially in people with compromised immune systems. One-third of AIDS-related deaths are thought to be caused by the fungus.
But though people in Southern California have been getting sick from C. gatti for years, nobody knew how…
Solved by a 15 year old working with a post-doc and that post-doc’s boss. Pretty goddamned great.