Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Preventing flu

In a nice piece at the WaPo, Annie Applebaum decries Silver Flu Bullets. Among the problems she sees: short-termism, hatred of drug companies and
Finally, Americans and their leaders will have to get over their love affair with intelligent design . Polls show that most don't believe in evolution. But it is actually impossible to talk logically about bird flu, or any other rapidly evolving and constantly changing virus, without using the language of evolution -- specific words such as "mutant," "recombination," "genome" and "selection." Without that language, a sensible popular or political discussion, let alone a scientific discussion, is impossible: We're stuck talking about the virus "jumping" from birds to humans, as if it were a magic bug with a mind of its own. We're stuck thinking that a virus is a hex that can be lifted with a single lucky charm, not something that will change over time.

We're also stuck with magic solutions: silver bullets, protective amulets, Tamiflu prescriptions. And until we are willing to elect the politicians, pay the businessmen, and support the scientists and science educators who can come up with something better, that, I'm afraid, is all the flu preparedness we'll ever have.
Dang straight.

Of course, the IDolators think this is batty. But since they don't understand how the flu works, that really doesn't matter.