Anne Applebaum starts out placidly enough… remarking on the new incarnation of Yuppie anxiety of old, remember when there was a run on gas masks and water purification tablets? Not a bad thing in itself, to be prepared with, but not very practical when only a fear fueled fad.
But is that what Applebaum really wants to explain to us? No, she has higher aspirations of didacticism in mind…..
Finally, Americans and their leaders will have to get over their love affair with intelligent design . Polls show that most don’t believe in evolution. But it is actually impossible to talk logically about bird flu, or any other rapidly evolving and constantly changing virus, without using the language of evolution — specific words such as “mutant,” “recombination,” “genome” and “selection.” Without that language, a sensible popular or political discussion, let alone a scientific discussion, is impossible: We’re stuck talking about the virus “jumping” from birds to humans, as if it were a magic bug with a mind of its own. We’re stuck thinking that a virus is a hex that can be lifted with a single lucky charm, not something that will change over time.
We’re also stuck with magic solutions: silver bullets, protective amulets, Tamiflu prescriptions. And until we are willing to elect the politicians, pay the businessmen, and support the scientists and science educators who can come up with something better, that, I’m afraid, is all the flu preparedness we’ll ever have.
The world according to the lockstep Left has George Bush in charge of the climate and the wolves of the Christian Right devouring our very minds….
Just one problem with Applebaum’s point, and it is tied up with that useful Logical Fallacy, equivocation. Not all definitions of the word ‘evolution’ or ‘evolutionary’ are describing the same process or idea. There was a little bit of a switch in the middle, which illustrates a common misunderstanding. There is ‘Evolution’ as an origins and speciation theory, and there is evolution as in the ‘mutation’ of life forms within their species (microevolution)… and you know what we are talking about in the bird flu, and in viruses? Yes, you do because you are smart.
So why is an intelligent, well-paid ( paid more than me, anyway) writer for a prestigious news outlet not able to get the basic science right? Bias, mainly. That blindered, prejudicial outrage that parades as modern enlightenment.
“We’re also stuck with magic solutions: silver bullets, protective amulets, Tamiflu prescriptions.” is due to a mix of half baked science as proffered by the media in their sound-byte flashes of wisdom and a populace who would rather trust the ‘expert’ doctors and magic pills rather than be responsible for being fully informed… and editorialists such as Applebaum don’t help any.
Railing on about conservative politics is not what will solve the obvious problem of our unwieldy, and ineptly running bureaucracy. That has defied any number of administrations and just gets worse. Which has nothing at all to do with a “love affair with intelligent design”. Intelligent design is dealing with origins more than anything else, and it follows a logical path in the theory from there. It doesn’t spawn the word “jumping” in the descriptions of viral mutation and contagion. I don’t know where the term comes from, but it’s been used for a while in terms of describing viruses. It probably has more to do with putting things in “layman’s terms” than anything else… so maybe its medias fault ( if you have to blame someone). Wouldn’t that be ironic? Anyway, such an idea is more in tandem with the evolution theory of species “jumping” from one form to another.. rather than ideas of mutation, etc. In the sense of infecting different species, I don’t think the word “jumping” is all that incorrect. Not that I am an expert… but obviously Applebaum isn’t either.
But the problem for Applebaum isn’t really the origins of the use of the word, “jumping”, to describe the viral infection process. No, the real problem for her was to see how far she could lunge the dagger of ridicule and fear into the group, politically and socially, she most despises.
And we got that, Anne, ok? We got that, but next time brush up on the science, first. At least something of use could’ve come from the reading time. It threw all that was said into question.
Why are people so not in love with Drug Companies? Could it be the bad press they get? Not that some of the greedy and troublesome measures they have been guilty of hasn’t deserved the investigations ( for which we are grateful), but the whole rant was off the mark. No one is thinking that drug companies are in the business of making “weapons of mass destruction”, c’mon now. Not in this country, anyway. That was another over the top dig… filled with connotation. In fact, I am wondering if that isn’t the whole purpose…. just euphemistic political ranting- and does she care the hell at all about global threatening flu? Or does she just want to get her anger about the war, the Right, and the President, off her chest?
Just wondering… ’cause there are probably better vehicles for her opinions than taking everyone a ride on the wing this bird.