Walter Ogston (ogston at HOBBES.KZOO.EDU) wrote:
: Deborah Wisti-Peterson, nyneve at u.washington.edu writes:
: > has anyone read _the dancing matrix_? if so, what did you think
: > about it?
: Yes, I have looked at it but I put it down after a couple of
: chapters because I have more interesting things to read. It
: seemed to me like a publicity write-up for Stephen Morse. Not
: that I have anything against Morse, but if you want to learn
: about viruses you should go to more than one source for your
: information. On the other hand it does seem to be the most
: serious "popular" book about viruses out there. Judging by what
: I have read on the list, the other two (i.e. Hot Zone and Coming
: Plague) are not as good.
: Walter Ogston ogston at hobbes.kzoo.edu: Department of Biology Phone: (616)337-7010
: Kalamazoo College Fax: (616)337-7251
: Kalamazoo, MI 49006-3295
i'm reading "a dancing matrix" now, and i agree that it is better than
other virus popularizers i've read. it's more science oriented than "hot
zone" and doesn't have the tabloid feel to it. i have a beef with it,
though. do you ever suspect that some scientists quoted in the press are
motivated by politcal beliefs, and use questionable evidence to support
their views? well, that's what this book is like. henig's thesis is that
human behavior plays a greater role in the spread of viruses than does
genetic mutation. she complains that many scientists make humans out to
be doe-eyed innocents who are attacked by viruses that sort of pop out of
nowhere, while ignoring human behavior as a factor. as humans move into
previously uninhabited envrionments, like rain forests, they become
exposed to new viruses. global warming, too, brings viruses to people.
these are good points worth considering. but, henig makes suspicious use
of facts. she explains that viruses eventually reach an equilibrium in
nature, and animals can carry them without harm. then, humans intrude,
get sick, and spread viruses. as an example she uses the marburg and
ebola reston outbreaks. on page 33 she implies that these viruses had
reached an equilibrium in their monkey hosts. this isn't true, though, is
it? i thought monkeys were dying from marburg and ebola reston. yet she
uses these two outbreaks as evidence to support her thesis.
and then these irritating statements appear in the book, like "the
average annual temperature of the earth is increasing every year". what
does this mean, exactly?
there have got to be better books out there suitable for lay readers.
walter, could you please recommend a few?