Bulletin Board
Rants, Raves, Interesting Science & Awful Puns
February 19, 2004

Some Virus Fundamentals

Sane Words Amid The Hysteria

The logic and the mind-set that gave us witch hunting never really went away, but resurrects periodically in various guises. A current manifestation is the mania for finding new viruses as the cause for everything, which is good for visibility and funding, and provides excellent subject matter for the ever-lucrative industry of scaring the public and keeping their minds off the things they should really be concerned about.

So it's refreshing to see a down-to-earth primer on a few virology basics as a reminder of just how flaky the evidence is for some of the claims doing the media rounds--generally without being questioned. "West Nile Virus: Horse Puckey?" by David Crowe and Jim West, special feature in Vol.2, Issue 6 of Natural Horse Magazine.

The piece is dated 2002, but the facts haven't changed and the situation today is, if anything, even more chaotic now than it was then. It includes some prophetic words about bird sicknesses and reasons why viruses make such convenient scapegoats. As the article puts it:

Presently, viruses provide a convenient, uncontroversial and safe whipping boy for outbreaks of illness, since they have been thoroughly demonized in all avenues of the media. Virus causation theories allow the media to avoid confrontation with powerful industrial interests. Those who pursue infectious disease paradigms are well funded and publicized, sympathized and enshrined.

David Crowe is President of the Alberta Reappraising AIDS Society.

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