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Ebola Zaire panic

Steven Poet poets at ccmail.orst.edu
Fri Jul 21 17:41:47 EST 1995

"Robert Morrell Jr." <bmorrell at isnet.is.wfu.edu> wrote:
> 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"
Panic also causes a few novice SCUBA divers, when they encounter a
situation that is frightening, to hold their breath and swim to the
surface.  This will kill them.  Without reasonable scientific background,
it's probably a coin toss that panic will produce the correct response
to the stimulus.

> >  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.
I'm not advocating bland, neutral terminology.  That's what gives
scientists a bad name.  I'm advocating correct terminology.  A virus
will not stalk you.  A virus may infect and possibly kill you.  That's
why good hygene practices (food, personal, and social)
will control an epidemic for most infectious disease situations.    

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