2014 October 18 Saturday
Greg Cochran On Ebola: Our Leaders Are Nuts
Why put our health care workers and other Americans at any avoidable risk of contracting Ebola? Luckily Ebola is not very infectious because our leaders are opposed to sensible and low cost precautions for preventing its spread to the United States.
Why take this risk? There’s no reason to do so. The administration claims that limiting incoming travel from Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone would backfire. Why do they say that?
I’d say that it’s because they’re nuts, which is often the deep reason behind federal action. Oh, undoubtedly they’re thinking something nonsensical about the horrors of profiling black Africans, but let’s be real: we’d quarantine Sweden if they had something like Ebola, be they ever so blond, and we’d be right to do so. At the end of the day, nuts, like I said.
Greg says other sensible things. Go read the whole thing.
I'd like to live in a country where the leaders are consistently sensible and never nuts. America's leaders get so many other things wrong and the costs of those many mistakes are adding up.
By Randall Parker at 2014 October 18 11:25 AM
As I noted in "The Ebola Epidemiology They Won't Talk About" if you think the average number of personal contacts as proportional to a first order approximation of R0, and that therefore the R0 is below 1, you're fooling yourself. The ratio of the variance in the number of contacts to the average starts dominating as the average tends toward 0. So what's the variance? It turned out to be a huge factor in the R0 for AIDS. It might be for Ebola as well and not just because it is a sexually transmitted disease by asymptomatic vectors. Let me give you an example:
According to the CDC:
"Ebola on dried on surfaces such as doorknobs and countertops can survive for several hours" The Ebola virus can live on surfaces that have been in contact with bodily fluids.
A would-be suicide bomber could do enormous damage during one day on the subways of a single city -- including the Washington, DC Metro.
What does that do to the variance? How many people in the US harbor deep hatred toward the US? How many people does one of them have to infect before they hit another one? How does targeting (ie: DC Metro) change the societal impact?
What's Obama going to do? Set up temperature-taking stations at all points of entry to the DC Metro? Order that all blacks, Muslims and Hispanics (all of whom are indoctrinated to hold deep historic grudges against the US) be excluded from the DC Metro?
The administration's various explanations on why we have to keep the doors wide open to Ebola infected countries have never made sense. It was an obvious question that was going to be asked, and they should have had a reasonable answer prepared if they think it's so important that infected Africans be able to access the multi-million dollar US healthcare system. A reasonable answer, "Because...science." would have been sufficient. Instead, the CDC director fumbled, and has been fumbling each and every time they are asked that question.
I assume the real answer is somehow PC related, but the fact that they can't even come up with a good cover story is scary.
They don't need to come up with a good cover story. The moral zeitgeist is, contrary to Dawkins's adulations, filled with more nutty religious zealotry than the the worst of Dawkins's whipping boys. The moral zeitgeist will fry the biosphere -- despite all its environmentalist proclamations -- rather than practice "the politics of exclusion".
To be fair, Dawkins has come to realise nowadays that -- to paraphrase both him and you -- the end of the Christian meme monoculture has simply led to the flourishing of both long-suppressed memes and of memes contracted from diverse other cultures. That's why his name is now anathema to the progressivist left.