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Ebola Zaire panic

Robert Morrell Jr. bmorrell at isnet.is.wfu.edu
Fri Jul 21 15:54:56 EST 1995


On 20 Jul 1995, Steven Poet wrote:

> 
> Panic is also a human concept, used to communicate unproductive,
> emotional reactions to a stimulus.

I do not believe that the word panic automatically implies unproductive 
response. Clearly in certain cases panic, as Keillor might say, "gives shy 
people the strenght to get up and do what needs to be done"

>  I am not against healthy (excuse
> the pun) respect for a nasty infectious disease, but using our heads
> to control epidemics is much better than using our emotions.  Viruses
> are parasites, not predators, in many cases (not all), a parasite
> that kills its host quickly is a lousy parasite.

True, but in communicating with the general public, using bland neutral 
terminology is counterproductive, in that it does not explain either the 
seriousness, nor engender the appropriate response. Amongst scientists 
the semantics and anthromorphisms are wrong. In general use, they fit the 
audience.

Bob Morrell




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