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Swine flu coverage was sensational because Media thought it was crap too... OMG SWINE FLU WILL KILL US ALL IN THE FALL. Plus Headlines of the Week 
Posted by Drew at 2009-05-04 12:14:56 PM, edited 2009-05-04 12:26:39 PM (170 comments) | Permalink
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8621 clicks; posted to Main » on 04 May 2009 at 12:31 PM (5 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



One week after writing my original article on how the swine flu isn't going to kill us all, the numbers bear it out: ONE new death since last Monday, compared to around 700 people (on average) who will die of the regular flu in a seven-day period. The vast majority of people get over the swine flu on their own with no hospitalization necessary.

Do we get an apology for MSM sending droves of people to hospitals who aren't sick? Driving down the stock market several hundred points on panic selling? Scaring people into cancelling air travel because they might end up in an enclosed space? Causing a run on ammunition and guns by people expecting the apocalypse? No, we get another load of hysteria: swine flu will kill us all next fall. See, it's going to go on summer vacation and come back as Spanish Influenza and wipe out the entire human race. It's happened before. Doubters will be the first to die. No apology for you.

Compare swine flu coverage to the way suspicious explosions in New York City are covered. Almost immediately, MSM reassures us that there is no evidence of terrorism. Do we know what caused the explosion? No, but there's no evidence of terrorism. From the getgo, MSM takes a calmer approach: let's not get crazy here, be calm, wait for the facts.

Next time there's a flu outbreak I'd love to see similar coverage. Please don't go to hospitals unless you really have to because they're busy. Don't fret about the stock market, it's a buying opportunity. No need to cancel air travel, wash your hands a lot and don't stick your fingers in your nose. This is not the apocalypse, we'll get through this. Don't panic.

Here's why we didn't see media coverage aimed at calming people: MSM never believed this was a real threat in the first place. Notice how coverage tone changes when something serious really is going on. "Be calm, don't panic, wait awhile, see what happens." As opposed to pure media-fueled hysteria like shark attacks, bacteria on doorknobs, killer bees, kudzu, white sugar, and so on.

Headlines Of The Week for Sun 2009-04-26 to Sat 2009-05-02:

img1.fark.net  Man gets called into work so he can be fired, returns home to find his house on fire. Wishes he had been laid off    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  Lighthouse keeper opens the most isolated café in Scotland. While I respect that a lot, I'd be fired if that were my job, after killing Jason off and countless screaming Argonauts    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  Newest thing in car tech? Device that limits teenagers from driving over 80. Back in my day, we called that a Chevette    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  High on a hill hiked a naked trekker / Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo / Townspeople said "Cover up your pecker" / Lay ee odl lay ee odl-oo    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  Buddhist preacher issues etiquette guide for gay monks. What is the sound of one hand reaching around?    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  Fewer Americans are adopting Chinese children, mainly because they'll just want to adopt again 30 minutes later    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  Car Flu kills at least 41 in Baghdad    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  Adolf Hitler's family won't see any money from the sale of his paintings, since their past efforts raised a little furor    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support torture, with white evangelical Protestants most likely to condone it. Jesus facepalms, glares disapprovingly through the little hole    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  Pentagon using Facebook and Twitter to recruit new employees, because if there's one thing the military needs it's someone who posts every minute detail of their life on the web    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  Search continues for blind hiker who has been missing for 7 days and 14 nights    img.fark.net


Sports:

img1.fark.net  To: The Yankees - Subject: "You suck " - From: The Tigers - CC: Sabathia    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  Mexico decides to conduct a bunch of soccer games the way we do in the US: With no fans in the stands    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  Kentucky Derby fans endure three hours elbow-to-elbow with drunken, sweaty idiots wearing ridiculous clothing just to get two minutes of action, much like submitter's prom night    img.fark.net


Geek:

img1.fark.net  Apple and Verizon may be in talks to produce a device that might "shake up the tech industry." Insiders say it will be called the iPerbole    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  Ice chunk larger than the state of Rhode Island breaking off of the Antarctic shelf. Yay, Rhode Island's back as a unit of measurement    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  Experts warn that the Internet is running out of bandw    img.fark.net


Showbiz:

img1.fark.net  Maagie Gyllenhaal aand Peter Sarsgaard aanounce maarriaage plaans for Itaaly in Maay. The aacting couple, daating aas of 2002, aalreaady haas aa daaughter named Raamonaa    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  World's largest tub of popcorn being constructed as a promotion. You can wash it down with the world's largest cup of soda, also known in the movie theater business as a "medium"    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  Papa of African girl to Madonna: "I've made up my mind, I'm keeping my baby"    img.fark.net


Politics:

img1.fark.net  "Citrus plot" makes paranoid Iranians so fearful of Israelis they look for conspiracies in oranges, are still blaming everything on the juice    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  Obama secretly tested for swine flu after man he shook hands with in Mexico drops dead the next day. Officials concerned because Obama's touch usually heals    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  White House apologizes for Biden's swine flu comments, Manhattan fly-by, President Bush, New Coke, destruction of the Library at Alexandria, and for calling time-out with 11 seconds left in the game when they were out of time-outs  


Music:

img1.fark.net  Some Geek creates a song based on the components of the H1N1 virus. Still not as catchy as "Baby, Can You Dig Your Man?" (link to mp3 file in article)    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  What do you do with a rural road said to have little bumps, tight curves and accidents seem to be cousin' a pile up? Name it after Jerry Lee Lewis    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  New movie chronicles history of NYC punk club CBGB. Farkers under 25 think that store has some really cute clothes    img.fark.net


Business:

img1.fark.net  US Airways to add a fee for paying a fee. Don't hold your breath that this will go away, unless you want to start practicing for the day they start charging for air    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  Citigroup asks for Timmah Geithner's blessing to pay corporate bonuses, on this, the day of his daughter's wedding    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  We don't make a lot of the things you buy, and that's kind of our problem. BASF    img.fark.net
· · ·
(view entire blog)


170 Comments   (+0 »)
   

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2009-05-04 01:34:50 PM
hockeyfarker: fritopendejo: Obviously. I forgot an "o". You don't know squat about virology or the media.

I may not know squat, but you're ugly, and I can read a book or watch a documentary


No- I'm actually quite fetching. People often compliment me on my dapper sense of style and above average personal hygiene.
 
2009-05-04 01:36:17 PM
ds394: As a physician on the front lines of this swine flu, I have to tell you that Drew is underestimating the concerns regarding this issue.

Two things make a virus deadly (as anyone who's played Pandemic can tell you):
1. Transmission rate
2. Virulence (ability to kill you)

It's looking like the swine flu has #1 wrapped up- it spreads really easily.


Good point, this really is worth keeping an eye on. I thought the anthrax attacks were much scarier than 9-11 in a way. We were very lucky that whoever did that wasn't that serious about causing large scale damage.

The good thing about the anthrax scare was that it highlighted the lack of a functioning public health infrastructure in the US and some progress has been made to address that. I'm sure the CDC field communications put in place have helped track this outbreak, even though it is not as serious as it could have been, potentially, so far!
 
2009-05-04 01:37:36 PM
GroverCleveland: "I'm going to guess that today's pandemics will spread much more quickly because our chevettes can do at least 55 mph."

That's true, and the point I made is still valid: This virus has only been spreading beyond Mexico for a couple of weeks. The story is just beginning. It could turn out to be no big deal, or it could turn out to be a very big deal. No one will know which it is for months.

I don't think the media has gone overboard on this. 99% of the stories I've seen are measured and accurate, as far as it goes. The real story here is how stupid and incurious many people are. How hard is it to find the facts for yourself and put the matter into perspective?
 
2009-05-04 01:41:15 PM
I have had a cold recently, no vomiting or diarrhea, and it is almost gone. Was asked to stay home from work sick on Friday. Stupid. 3 day weekend didn't suck though.
 
2009-05-04 01:45:31 PM
hockeyfarker: right, but it could also mutate and become relativelyl harmless, no?

Could go either way. Right now, it's mild. What's worrying is that it's airborne. I don't think you could find a public health expert who could tell you there isn't going to be a round two out of this one.

I've done some research on this in the past and actually talked to a couple of Canadians who had it as children in 1919 and survived - they were incapacitated for months and still vividly remember the pain. Anyone who thinks a flu pandemic is just really bad sniffles and a week in bed really needs to look into it. You don't have to panic, but it is something to keep on the radar.
 
2009-05-04 01:48:59 PM
40below: I've done some research on this in the past and actually talked to a couple of Canadians who had it as children in 1919 and survived


disclaimer 1: i know fark else about the flu.

disclaimer 2: i don't know if it is possible to "cure" the flu

that said, i have a vague recollection of reading where the US Army has been studying the 1918 flu virus and still hasn't cracked it. something about how, as you certainly know, it was a real motherfarker of a flu strain, such that it is still being studied.

or i could be wrong. feh.
 
2009-05-04 01:49:31 PM
2009 US DEATHS to date from Regular Seasonal Flu: approx 13,0000

2009 US DEATHS to date from Swine Flu H1N1: 1

Call me when we've lost another 12,999.
 
2009-05-04 01:50:01 PM
canyoneer: 1347 - 1352

How many airliners were there in 1347-1352?
 
2009-05-04 01:50:30 PM
40below: Bendal: If it's as infectious as the claim, we should be seeing outbreaks everywhere, but we're not. We're getting the "they went to Mexico and got the flu" reports but no secondary infection outbreaks.

What outlets are you reading? There are secondary infections everywhere that primary infections have been reported. I'm not going to do your research for you, but I suspect secondary infections now outnumber primary ones, and in Canada, there's even been a human-to-pig transmission documented over and above human-to-human.

Transmissibility is the big thing, and the virus is going to continue to mutate merrily. Remember, the 1918 outbreak started mildly, but a few months in, became deadly.


OK, WTF are you Canadians doing to your pigs?
 
2009-05-04 01:51:35 PM
okay I'm sick and tired of this swine flu.

I submitted a photoshop contest titled "photoshop your own animal flu" wish that got greenlit

anyways can we move on to the next stupid pandemic. Maybe like The Bunny flu?
 
2009-05-04 01:52:40 PM
Frank Anthrax: Does it matter whether Drew claims a title or not? He has a huge following, he has a book out on the media, which pretty much makes him a self-styled media expert, and he posts blogs that focus on the media. Why would people take what Drew has to say any less seriously than other media pundits? He accuses the media of irresponsibility -- rightfully to an extent -- while engaging in the flip-side of the media's irresponsibility; the media is overinforming (and sometimes misinforming) the public, while Drew is under-informing them.

What is Drew under-informing? He's criticizing the media and stating that were this a real emergency, the media wouldn't be in "OMG! PANIC!" mode. What's being under-informed? The possible potential that something may happen in the future? Why should we (the public) be more worried about this than anything else? What warrants the level of attention and craze that the MSM is providing? The public's job isn't to research and learn more about the disease. The public's efforts to limit the spread of the disease are largely a placebo. The public is largely irrelevant at this point.

Further, your analogy is faulty. TDS and Colbert sarcastically present the news, but Drew does so far more seriously. TDS and Colbert don't misrepresent the news, they present the news (i.e., the facts) as they are, and they criticize the way the news is presented through a humorous lens. Drew's blog posts, on the other hand, are a straight-faced presentation of his views on the media.

The Daily Show and Drew's opinions express the same idea.
 
2009-05-04 01:53:12 PM
In retrospect it didn't turn out as serious... but retrospect has an obvious advantage.

We've known from the past that these things can be extremely unpredictable but we know certain aspects (such as jumping species and being able to transmit between humans) are earmarks for a more serious situation. Mutations can suggest more mutations possible including becoming drug resistant (the worst case situation).

I wonder what would have happened if it ended up being drug resistant. Would people have criticized governments and media for not getting the word out quick enough or "not taking enough action" (as if a vaccine and cure can be developed in 1hr like on TV).

The other problem with retrospect is makes you sound like an asshat. Yes it's obvious... afterwords.

If that's the gold standard isn't everyone guilty of conspiring to commit mass murder for not reporting to federal authorities about 9/11 attacks after the fact? Yea, not really practical.


IMHO it was more people panic than media panic. Yes, sheeple are stupid and panic over anything... but that doesn't mean information shouldn't be disseminated.

IMHO the ones in the wrong were those who went to Home Depot and started buying dust masks to wear around (rather than N95 masks). And wearing masks without gloves (which is pointless as most transmission outside of movies is by way of your hands not airborne).

That said, Fark made some decent ad impressions off of the swine flu related headlines. They have all been popular threads.
 
2009-05-04 01:55:26 PM
CnFlght: UfarkHead: It is no longer called swine flu. It is called H1N1 or A(H1N1)

[i164.photobucket.com image 430x300]

/So hot. Want to touch the H1N1

I prefer bacon lung.

It has a nice sound to it.

Bacon lung, bacon lung, bacon lung. I like saying that.


I like Pork Lung. Fight it with a porcine vaccine.
 
2009-05-04 01:55:29 PM
rickythepenguin: that said, i have a vague recollection of reading where the US Army has been studying the 1918 flu virus and still hasn't cracked it. something about how, as you certainly know, it was a real motherfarker of a flu strain, such that it is still being studied.

IIRC, the 1918 strain was a bastard because it had a particular receptor that allowed it to attach easily to human cells, which avian viruses generally don't have.

And it wasn't the virus that killed you, it was your own immune system going into overdrive after encountering a completely foreign virus that filled your lungs with fluid and shut down your organs. That's why it was so deadly to young, healthy people with their robust immune systems.
 
2009-05-04 01:55:43 PM
DIGITALgimpus: IMHO it was more people panic than media panic. Yes, sheeple are stupid and panic over anything... but that doesn't mean information shouldn't be disseminated.

The media was asking people to wear masks for interviews because it would "be more dramatic."

They're causing the panic so the story sells better.

As much as I criticize the WHO for having a PR and not knowing their audience, it is still the media who spreads this crap around.
 
2009-05-04 01:56:41 PM
netweavr: What is Drew under-informing? He's criticizing the media and stating that were this a real emergency, the media wouldn't be in "OMG! PANIC!" mode. What's being under-informed? The possible potential that something may happen in the future? Why should we (the public) be more worried about this than anything else? What warrants the level of attention and craze that the MSM is providing? The public's job isn't to research and learn more about the disease. The public's efforts to limit the spread of the disease are largely a placebo. The public is largely irrelevant at this point.

I have already expressed my views on this, and won't repeat myself, but I'll summarize: he is saying that we should not worry, when much of the evidence is to the contrary. I would further contest that the media is providing a "craze." You cannot say for certain that the public effort to limit the spread is a "placebo." As I said in my original post, if the public effort works, we won't know, precisely because it has worked. It could be because of the public's efforts, it could be because the flu simply goes away. There will be no way to tell.

netweavr: The Daily Show and Drew's opinions express the same idea.

So?
 
2009-05-04 01:58:40 PM
There is no "retrospect" yet. This is the first wave at the end of ordinary flu season. Flu does not typically spread in the summer months. It reappears in the fall - only then will we know what this strain is truly capable of. I don't think the public health and scientists have overblown this at all. We know that pandemics occur and we know enough about how some of them start for this to have been worrisome. It still could be if it is allowed to spread and mutate prior to its fall comeback (for example it can gain resistance to the few anti-virals that actually work againsts it right now if they are abused by people with only mild symptoms now).

People dismissing this now are incapable of understanding that some threats grow over time - they aren't all terrorist attacks that happen all at once. This is the same reason people were too stupid to avoid the financial meltdown. Just because it isn't too dangerous currently, doesn't mean it won't become so. I'd rather public health officials continue to inform us and err on the side of caution where necessary than only attempt to track and hinder the virus once its killing people by the millions.
 
2009-05-04 02:00:09 PM
rickythepenguin
that said, i have a vague recollection of reading where the US Army has been studying the 1918 flu virus and still hasn't cracked it. something about how, as you certainly know, it was a real motherfarker of a flu strain, such that it is still being studied.

or i could be wrong. feh.


It started with this guy who went to Svalbard to dig up victims
that had been preserved in the cold to try to find out what the
virus was. Eventually they found some bodies in an Alaskan village
and got tissue samples. It was on NOVA or something years ago.

Recently I decided to see where that all ended up.

They actually sequenced the virus and eventually made some to
study to see why it was so deadly. I guess it's no worse than
having smallpox somewhere in the freezer, and maybe they learned
some stuff.

Heres a link:
Link (new window)
 
2009-05-04 02:01:08 PM
When is the typical flu season? I had flu-like symptoms in March. Fevers and headaches for 5+ days. Not sure if it was actually the flu, since I didn't visit a doctor. Is it possible I had swine flu? Not that it matters, since I'm still alive to type this message. Amusing side note: one of my employees called out sick today. Possible food poisoning or swine flu?...She's not sure which. I told her to go to the hospital for confirmation. I just find it amusing that she threw that out as an explanation.
 
2009-05-04 02:01:51 PM
40below: That's why it was so deadly to young, healthy people with their robust immune systems

young men who had been fighting trench warfare underneath the delicious cloud of mustard gas for the past 4 years
 
2009-05-04 02:02:41 PM
Guysmiley: canyoneer: 1347 - 1352

How many airliners were there in 1347-1352?


How many cities in Europe currently use their streets as open sewers, and how many village surgeons drain the body's humors to cure disease?
 
2009-05-04 02:03:40 PM
netweavr: Why should we (the public) be more worried about this than anything else? What warrants the level of attention and craze that the MSM is providing?

See: cholera, typhus, HIV/AIDS, measles, smallpox, malaria, yellow fever, not to mention influenza.

If we can take simple measures to stop the spread of this thing now, we should. But we won't if we're not informed of the potential danger. It's not like the potential for these things comes along every day. I don't think it's unreasonable to consider what the experts have said with regard to the disturbing transmission rates of this strain of flu and take proper precaution.

The level of attention is warranted because we have the potential to do something about it (unlike, say, terrorism).
 
2009-05-04 02:03:51 PM
Frank Anthrax: netweavr: What is Drew under-informing? He's criticizing the media and stating that were this a real emergency, the media wouldn't be in "OMG! PANIC!" mode. What's being under-informed? The possible potential that something may happen in the future? Why should we (the public) be more worried about this than anything else? What warrants the level of attention and craze that the MSM is providing? The public's job isn't to research and learn more about the disease. The public's efforts to limit the spread of the disease are largely a placebo. The public is largely irrelevant at this point.

I have already expressed my views on this, and won't repeat myself, but I'll summarize: he is saying that we should not worry, when much of the evidence is to the contrary. I would further contest that the media is providing a "craze." You cannot say for certain that the public effort to limit the spread is a "placebo." As I said in my original post, if the public effort works, we won't know, precisely because it has worked. It could be because of the public's efforts, it could be because the flu simply goes away. There will be no way to tell.


Telling people that practicing good hygiene will stop a pandemic is a placebo. If it's a pandemic it's going to spread, society is too close-knit and populations are too dense to believe otherwise. It's like saying the Dentist's lead apron on your chest protects you against radiation, while the X-Ray machine is aimed at your head.

netweavr: The Daily Show and Drew's opinions express the same idea.

So?


So, your argument that Drew is screwing-up and TDS isn't boils down to "Drew isn't sarcastic enough."

We should worry, you're claiming?

I ask why? Why should the public worry here? What possible good does that do?
 
2009-05-04 02:05:49 PM
40below: Could go either way. Right now, it's mild. What's worrying is that it's airborne. I don't think you could find a public health expert who could tell you there isn't going to be a round two out of this one.

I honestly haven't noticed a big media scarefest on this, maybe because in Canada they are a bit more sober about these things, and I don't watch cable news networks, but I still confess some bemusement at the whole situation. Public health experts are naturally going to be cautious about the situation, but -to somewhat skirt one of the skeptic's talking points about this whole situation - if the swine flu could mutate into a killer, so could the regular flu. Viruses are mutating all the time, and society hasn't collapsed due to paranoia driven madness. let the public health experts keep an eye on it, that's their job. Me, I'm just gonna stay away from my one buddy who went to Mexico for his wedding last week.

ouch, eh
 
2009-05-04 02:06:01 PM
Drew - Causing a run on ammunition and guns by people expecting the apocalypse?

Drew - quit making stuff up. The run on guns and ammo started well before last week, and has been prolonged since the presidential primaries. .38 ammo hasn't been on the shelves for months.

CNN even did a story on it today.

Link (new window)
 
2009-05-04 02:06:13 PM
Frank Anthrax: netweavr: Why should we (the public) be more worried about this than anything else? What warrants the level of attention and craze that the MSM is providing?

See: cholera, typhus, HIV/AIDS, measles, smallpox, malaria, yellow fever, not to mention influenza.

If we can take simple measures to stop the spread of this thing now, we should. But we won't if we're not informed of the potential danger. It's not like the potential for these things comes along every day. I don't think it's unreasonable to consider what the experts have said with regard to the disturbing transmission rates of this strain of flu and take proper precaution.

The level of attention is warranted because we have the potential to do something about it (unlike, say, terrorism).


Who is "we?" What potential to do something about it?

I'd argue that the public has the same potential to do something about this as we do against, say, terrorism.
 
2009-05-04 02:09:41 PM
Did Democrats incite Hamdemic, The Aporkalypse?
(new window)
Published by Jules Siegel under Environment, Health, Today's News

Noted right wing savants such as Glenn Beck and Michelle Bachmann seem to think the White House inflamed the swine flu crisis in order to fast track Kathleen Sibelius for Secretary of Health and Human Services. Maybe they are on to something, but not in the way they think.

A lot of this just doesn't seem to hang together very well. First of all, although travelers from Cancun (where I live) have been diagnosed with swine flu, there is no confirmed swine flu in Cancun. I will repeat that. There is no confirmed swine flu in Cancun. In fact, despite being called a pandemic, there really aren't a lot of cases anywhere in the world, not even in Mexico City. So it would be understandable to wonder why total hazmat anti-terror precautions have been unleashed. Continue Reading (new window) »
 
2009-05-04 02:11:42 PM
netweavr: Telling people that practicing good hygiene will stop a pandemic is a placebo. If it's a pandemic it's going to spread, society is too close-knit and populations are too dense to believe otherwise. It's like saying the Dentist's lead apron on your chest protects you against radiation, while the X-Ray machine is aimed at your head.

Experts disagree with you. Don't ask who, do your own research please.

netweavr: So, your argument that Drew is screwing-up and TDS isn't boils down to "Drew isn't sarcastic enough."

No, it's not. My argument is that people realize that TDS is joking more than they do so for Drew. Even still, I don't think TDS should be off the hook. They are both being irresponsible.

netweavr: I ask why? Why should the public worry here? What possible good does that do?

Like I said, it is believed that a little prevention can go a long way. It will put people on notice and help prepare them should this become more virulent.
 
2009-05-04 02:16:47 PM
Frank Anthrax: No, it's not. My argument is that people realize that TDS is joking more than they do so for Drew.

no, no, no. People should not be forming their opinions on potential health crises off of some internet celebrity's blog, and if they do nothing will save them anyways.
 
2009-05-04 02:16:59 PM
Frank Anthrax
Like I said, it is believed that a little prevention can go a long way. It will put people on notice and help prepare them should this become more virulent.

Additionally, if we can reduce the exposure now (such as people staying away from work and school when sick, and keeping clear of the virus through good hygiene), the virus will have a limited reservoir to use as a petrie dish for further mutation and may not be able to reach its potential virulence before it burns itself out. Strains of flu don't circulate forever. They have a limited time to become dominant before burning out, combining with other strains, or losing out to another dominant strain.
 
2009-05-04 02:22:24 PM
netweavr: Frank Anthrax: netweavr: Why should we (the public) be more worried about this than anything else? What warrants the level of attention and craze that the MSM is providing?

See: cholera, typhus, HIV/AIDS, measles, smallpox, malaria, yellow fever, not to mention influenza.

If we can take simple measures to stop the spread of this thing now, we should. But we won't if we're not informed of the potential danger. It's not like the potential for these things comes along every day. I don't think it's unreasonable to consider what the experts have said with regard to the disturbing transmission rates of this strain of flu and take proper precaution.

The level of attention is warranted because we have the potential to do something about it (unlike, say, terrorism).

Who is "we?" What potential to do something about it?

I'd argue that the public has the same potential to do something about this as we do against, say, terrorism.


And I'd argue that:

- if people were told to boil their water sooner, thousands would have been saved from cholera

- if people were told to go to their doctor when they have flu symptoms instead of waiting it out as many people do, the spread of Asian and Hong Kong flu could have been stemmed

- if effective AIDS education were provided sooner, millions might have been spared. Of course, such education is still woefully lacking in many African countries

- if people were told to self-quarantine when they contracted the measles (pre-vaccination, of course), tens of thousands might have been saved

Granted, all of the above diseases have virulence exceeding H1N1 or whatever you want to call it. But why should we sit on our haunches, wait it out, then do something about it if it becomes worse? We don't know exactly how effective preventative measures can be, but, like many people who are "on the fence" about global warming argue, why just sit back and do nothing? If we are talking fairly simple precautionary measures, why would we not do something.

"We" are the people who are able to receive information and respond.
 
2009-05-04 02:24:47 PM
hockeyfarker: no, no, no. People should not be forming their opinions on potential health crises off of some internet celebrity's blog, and if they do nothing will save them anyways.

True, but people do form their opinions based on some internet celebrity's blog. We have to take them as they are. And this is as much about saving us as it is about saving them. The less people carrying the virus around, or having the potential to carry the virus around, the better.
 
2009-05-04 02:26:01 PM
hockeyfarker
if the swine flu could mutate into a killer, so could the regular flu.

This is not true. Only certain types of influenza can cause human pandemics, this is due to many factors. Influenza includes three types of the virus (A, B, and C). There is a lot of literature out there on the difference between those that cause seasonal flus and those that cause pandemics; they are VERY different.

I don't know why people have no respect for what other's do for a living. So many armchair scientists here. I think I'll trust the people who do this for a living and have decades of schooling, experience, research and collaboration with other experts over some anonymous MD-wannabe on the internet.
 
2009-05-04 02:29:30 PM
I missed a TMBG headline? Unpossible!
 
2009-05-04 02:29:39 PM
Frank Anthrax: Granted, all of the above diseases have virulence exceeding H1N1 or whatever you want to call it. But why should we sit on our haunches, wait it out, then do something about it if it becomes worse? We don't know exactly how effective preventative measures can be, but, like many people who are "on the fence" about global warming argue, why just sit back and do nothing? If we are talking fairly simple precautionary measures, why would we not do something.

"We" are the people who are able to receive information and respond.


And here's where we reach the core of the argument against the media here.

The media blew its load before enough information was known. The media has the capability to manipulate and create a specific reaction in the general public. Unfortunately, this isn't a limitless resource. They can only do it a few times before their warnings will begin to be ignored. They wasted one of those times on this bug. They cried "wolf" because someone saw a dog in the distance. If they had waited even a few more days or simply not overblown this story, they would still have said leverage in future events. The ability of the WHO, CDC, and MSM to explode all over the airwaves is not one that should be tossed around like it was in this case. They've hurt their credibility with the public and damaged their ability to respond in the future.

Should this virus turn deadly next year, the public is likely to respond with "Swine Flu? Really? I remember that BS" and not follow instruction.
 
2009-05-04 02:35:17 PM
netweavr 2009-05-04 12:57:10 PM
fritopendejo: Your point about #2 is way off. There have been countless deaths in Mexico due to H1N1, but the Mexican govt. is covering it up, due to the economic ramifications. There has been at least 4,500 deaths in Mexico. We're all screwed, this is deadly. The MSM media is not blowing this out of proportion. For once, they've got it right.

Are you seriously suggesting competence (covering it up) on the part of the Mexican government?


Easy test for this one. How many deaths (or even cases) in South Texas? The border is so porous that it might as well be Northern Mexico.

Answer is one death (and the kid was visiting from Mexico City) and a handfull of cases. No major outbreak would occur in Mexico without overwhelming the medical facilities in Texas (probably AZ, NM and CA too). We're just not seeing it down here.
 
2009-05-04 02:37:59 PM
The only people freaking out about Swine Flu are a few loonatics, Joe Biden, and all you motherfarkers who keep complaining about people worrying about swine flu.

Shut the fark up already, we get it, you don't like the media coverage of swine flu. Jesus, you're worse than 9/11 truthers.
 
2009-05-04 02:38:45 PM
netweavr: Frank Anthrax: Granted, all of the above diseases have virulence exceeding H1N1 or whatever you want to call it. But why should we sit on our haunches, wait it out, then do something about it if it becomes worse? We don't know exactly how effective preventative measures can be, but, like many people who are "on the fence" about global warming argue, why just sit back and do nothing? If we are talking fairly simple precautionary measures, why would we not do something.

"We" are the people who are able to receive information and respond.

And here's where we reach the core of the argument against the media here.

The media blew its load before enough information was known. The media has the capability to manipulate and create a specific reaction in the general public. Unfortunately, this isn't a limitless resource. They can only do it a few times before their warnings will begin to be ignored. They wasted one of those times on this bug. They cried "wolf" because someone saw a dog in the distance. If they had waited even a few more days or simply not overblown this story, they would still have said leverage in future events. The ability of the WHO, CDC, and MSM to explode all over the airwaves is not one that should be tossed around like it was in this case. They've hurt their credibility with the public and damaged their ability to respond in the future.

Should this virus turn deadly next year, the public is likely to respond with "Swine Flu? Really? I remember that BS" and not follow instruction.


Assuming that this is true, then it is a very difficult problem. If the media acts early enough to affect the public's behavior enough, then we may never know that the media did something good. Was it because we washed our hands more and went to the doctor sooner? Was it because the virus just died out? How can we tell? On the other hand, if the media waits until just before, or just after, the point of exponential growth of infection (which is the real problem here -- once a tree catches fire, the whole forest goes up in flames), then people will be asking why they didn't warn them. They have a tough job -- they have to decide when to act, and with how much force. There are certainly conflicts of interest here -- the more panic, the more viewers (although if someone has some study to disprove this point, I'd love to see it) -- but I would say that most members of the media are acutely aware of the responsibility they have and how to best act. They don't always get it right.

Again, though, I would argue that your (and Drew's) characterization here is overblown. It really hasn't been all that irresponsible. there have been pockets of irresponsibility, sure, but I think the vast majority of reporting has been pretty level-headed.
 
2009-05-04 02:42:28 PM
Frank Anthrax: Again, though, I would argue that your (and Drew's) characterization here is overblown. It really hasn't been all that irresponsible. there have been pockets of irresponsibility, sure, but I think the vast majority of reporting has been pretty level-headed.

Then we will continue to disagree over this point. I agree it can be a tenuous position, I don't agree that the media handles it responsibly in the slightest.

Note, however, that I am not and will not criticize the scientific nor the medical work done by the CDC and WHO. Just the PR/media side of things.
 
2009-05-04 02:46:31 PM
netweavr: Then we will continue to disagree over this point. I agree it can be a tenuous position, I don't agree that the media handles it responsibly in the slightest.

Note, however, that I am not and will not criticize the scientific nor the medical work done by the CDC and WHO. Just the PR/media side of things.


Fair enough. And I am not trying to defend the media, but I am trying to put myself in its shoes.
 
2009-05-04 02:48:02 PM
Urbn: hockeyfarker
if the swine flu could mutate into a killer, so could the regular flu.

This is not true.


Shut the front door. My use of the word "regular" may have been imprecise, since there are many variants of the flu, but to say one variant couldn't mutate into a worse variant is flagrantly wrong. The whole reason influenza continues to be a health issue is because it mutates fairly quickly. You either don't understand this simple fact, which is certainly not controversial for me to say, or you misunderstood what I said, which seems apparent from your rambling. In fact you'll see I advocated letting the public health experts do their jobs.

What you are missing is that in general the backlash has not been against health experts, nor against taking proper precautions. It has been against the way the media presents the facts. Certain media channels would seem to be spreading misinformation because hysteria is good for their business, and that's what people do not respect.
 
2009-05-04 02:54:31 PM
hockeyfarker: Urbn: hockeyfarker
if the swine flu could mutate into a killer, so could the regular flu.

This is not true.

Shut the front door. My use of the word "regular" may have been imprecise, since there are many variants of the flu, but to say one variant couldn't mutate into a worse variant is flagrantly wrong. The whole reason influenza continues to be a health issue is because it mutates fairly quickly. You either don't understand this simple fact, which is certainly not controversial for me to say, or you misunderstood what I said, which seems apparent from your rambling. In fact you'll see I advocated letting the public health experts do their jobs.

What you are missing is that in general the backlash has not been against health experts, nor against taking proper precautions. It has been against the way the media presents the facts. Certain media channels would seem to be spreading misinformation because hysteria is good for their business, and that's what people do not respect.


As far as I can tell the backlash was immediate and devoid of facts, even before anyone knew what was going on people were loudly proclaiming that this was "typical hysteria" and screaming at the top of their lungs to ignore the media. It was as knee jerk a reaction as the few people (Biden, etc) who actually freaked out and as such is equally dumb.
 
2009-05-04 02:57:25 PM
The hysteria about the media hysteria is hysterical.
 
2009-05-04 02:59:25 PM
hockeyfarker
My use of the word "regular" may have been imprecise
Yes, it was. I see more where you're coming from now, but I was very clear so you already know where I'm coming from, and I never claimed it doesn't mutate so I don't know where you pulled that out of. Not just any flu strain is a possible pandemic, though. A type is much more likely to cause human pandemics, and tends to be more virulent, than B type. C type doesn't cause human pandemics (well, that we know of). But again, that is a reason for concern here. H5N1 is much more virulent but it has not yet show itself able to easily jump from human to human - this H1N1 does.

It has been against the way the media presents the facts. Certain media channels would seem to be spreading misinformation because hysteria is good for their business

I would like to see examples of this where clearly inaccurate information is a large problem from major media outlets (not blogs). I've been following pretty closely, and my local paper in Denver as well as the AP, Reuters and some others have been pretty factual and haven't been overblown. I'd like to see where this false information and hysteria from the media actually is coming from (and then I'll avoid those sources in the future). I really haven't seen it. I've heard more misinformed opinions from people who avoid actually reading and just react to headlines or just listen to bloggers or talk show hosts - that's where I've heard most of the complaining.
 
2009-05-04 03:04:10 PM
Having whiped the nation and the world into Swine Flu Hysteria. The media will now report on Swine Flu Hysteria for the next week.
Oh, we all did realize that the media is in the middle of ratings sweeps we?
 
2009-05-04 03:10:46 PM
Uh, DUH: "Gotta sell newspapers/air-time ad spots"

/Same ol' crap, different century
 
2009-05-04 03:12:23 PM
Urbn: Yes, it was. I see more where you're coming from now, but I was very clear so you already know where I'm coming from, and I never claimed it doesn't mutate so I don't know where you pulled that out of.

are you kidding me? I said, to paraphrase, if one form of flu could mutate, so could another, and then you said, and I quote, "This is not true." It was quite declarative.

And frankly, that post was directed at somebody else and was fairly informal, and I'm confident they knew what I meant, so chill.
 
2009-05-04 03:16:20 PM
Facepalm - The danger of the flu and the media coverage of the flu are not the same. Whether or not they say we will all die, we might
or might not.

People seem to expect responsible media coverage even though it
simply panders to our fears and ghoulish delight with disaster.

The media is some stereotypical entity rather than simply reflecting
our culture. It's much like 'they','them' or 'the man'.
 
2009-05-04 03:27:17 PM
Publication: Waterloo Courier (Waterloo, IA)
Publication Date: 08-JAN-07

Black Hawk County girl contracts swine flu.

Jan. 8--WATERLOO -- A 5-year-old Black Hawk County girl contracted swine flu, a disease which rarely jumps from pigs to humans, but state health officials said there is no cause for alarm.
 
2009-05-04 03:41:57 PM
netweavr: Note, however, that I am not and will not criticize the scientific nor the medical work done by the CDC and WHO. Just the PR/media side of things.

I've seen the CDC reps given very leading questions to try to play up the potential for a major disaster. Such as "Isn't it true that the disease could come back in 3 months and kill everyone on the planet?". It's just like asking someone "So, do you still beat your husband?"
 
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