Friday, October 31, 2014

Yes! No! Maybe....Not!

So; who to believe?  About which?

I think I wouldn't worry about it, since between Governors declaring public health emergency quarantines, but not enforcing them, and nurses deciding to ignore Governors, and judges deciding their job is to judge science, not law....  you're not getting any of the choices in here, anyhow.

Crazy, yes?  This is some of the damage caused by fear-panic in plagues.
Current results; the State Troopers in Maine are no longer sure if they should obey the Governor's orders; or wait for court clarification.  Citizens - have no idea who to listen to.

There is a saying in all the armies I can check on; so old it defies attribution; "Order, counter-order, disorder."  Chaos is just around the corner; when people do not know who to follow or who to trust.

The business world has a similar Law: "Even a bad decision is better than no decision."  A little more subtle, but proven true repeatedly.  Make a bad decision?  You may find that out quickly, and change direction.  No decision?  The Universe will decide for you, and you probably won't like it.

So who's in charge here?

Yep, I don't know either.


Luddene said...

I've decided that this all has something to do with the younger generation not having any idea what an epidemic is. Of course I’m not old enough to have personal memories of the 1918 flu pandemic, but I was around for the early 50s polio scare. Every park was empty. All the pools closed. And my parents talk about it all the time. The whole school lined up for the new Salk shot. I was one of the unlucky ones and had bad reaction. I was really sick. I don’t remember falling asleep in front of the TV, but I remember awaking up. Or rather regaining consciousness. Open my eyes to find the doctor – yeah they made house-calls back then – trying to move my head. He kept moving my legs and arms, but must have decided the threat had past because he finally left. My mother however was panicked. I had never seen her so distressed.

So the other day I had this small debate, little argument, slight disagreement, whatever, with my daughter. She’s in her early 40s and was appalled that the government would quarantine someone. It was against their rights. She kept coming up with scenarios where it would be a terrible thing. It finally clicked. She just does not understand what an epidemic can do. She’s never experienced anything like it. Just add this to the long list of skills we've let go of and buried. Bad things happen when our memories collapse.

Greenpa said...

To me it's a failure of education- there is a great abundance of history and literature that can illustrate the dangers of plagues (I like that word better than epidemic at the moment- it seems more intense, somehow.) But- what we teach instead is likely to be about the wonderfulness of antibiotics and modern medicine.

All that primitive plague stuff is far behind us; heck, it's a joke! Ever see Monty Python's "Holy Grail"? Hilarious that you'd just toss bodies on a wagon.

On the other hand- I remember learning some life lessons the hard way, grumbling about nobody warned about this; then realized that "English Literature" was FULL of this information- but it had never hit me (us) that it was relevant to me. I remember the teachers telling us it was- and it just did not sink in.

Aimee said...

well the question about quarantines is not just are they just but are they even effective? Listening to an extended interview with a doctor in Liberia, a historian, and a public health expert, the consensus was that quarantine usually makes things worse, not better. The historian talked about quarantine in towns experiencing pneumonic plague (the most communicable and universally fatal form) and saying in that case it made sense because there was literally nothing that could be done for the infected. But today, most experts in Ebola think that given optimal treatment, the actual fatality rate would be something under 5%. If that is true, then quarantine would be hideously unjust as it would probably prevent people from getting timely treatment. Also there is still no evidence that Ebola is anything like as transmissible as the flu - polio is actually a good analogue. Both are transmissible through close contact. I think that the nurse in Maine is doing us all a service - she is following CDC protocol but pushing back against non-scientific hysteria. There is a valid argument to be made that she OUGHT to act out of an abundance of caution and quarantine herself, and thereby avoid causing panic and hostility - but there is an equally valid argument to be made that we need to actively resist breaches of civil rights in the absence of solid scientific evidence.

Greenpa said...

I'd be very happy to see a 5% mortality rate from Ebola- but we haven't. What we HAVE seen is a huge increase in press releases from dozens of researchers announcing their thrilling new insights into Ebola; results coming any year now.

I wish that were cynicism; but it's not; it's pure hard reality. Show me that 5%, and we'll talk. :-)

The question of whether quarantines are effective or not may never be resolved; as Sinclair Lewis pointed out long ago, it is nearly impossible to run a controlled experiment in a plague situation- all the forces of man and nature are against you. One thing quarantines do, is show that people are trying to do SOMETHING- and that there is someone in charge. Panic unquestionably kills.