Friday, January 09, 2015
People Are Stupid
I heard Isaac Asimov speak when I was in college and that's how he started his talk. And by the way, it wasn't about science fiction, it was about a progressive vision for the planet.
Anyway, he was right. You may recall that Amber Vinson, the nurse who cared for Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan and later contracted the disease herself, visited Cleveland before she became symptomatic, causing mass hysteria. While there, she shopped for a wedding dress at a store called Coming Attractions. The store has been forced to close due to loss of business -- to this day, people are afraid to come in.
That largely speaks for itself, but it's worth remind ourselves once again that the stigma associated with infectious disease often causes more trouble than the disease itself, or at least doesn't help matters and just makes them worse. Ebola is by no means special or unique in this way. Remember the flu pandemic hoax of 2010-2011? Authorities closed schools, people wore masks on the sidewalk, stopped eating in restaurants -- the economic losses were enormous although what we actually had was a milder than usual flu season. Same thing happened with the SARS panic -- nobody would eat in a Chinese restaurant. If you remember the early days of AIDS, they were burning down people's houses and chasing kids out of school.
Of course this always benefits the paranoid party in American politics. Can you guess which one that is?