The 2019 -nCoV coronavirus is a global public health emergency of substantial concern. It is also, simultaneously, a fount of misinformation, mad conspiracy beliefs, and both over- and under-reactions. Whose fault is this? So glad you asked. I happen to have a little list.
Purveyors of misinformation. As archly observed by The Atlantic, that misleadingly-self-described Harvard epidemiologist who tweeted” HOLY MOTHER OF GOD” be held following math faults was … well … wrong.
He claims to be a Harvard epidemiologist, and on paper that’s true. He’s a visit scientist , not a regular Harvard faculty member. He’s a nutritionist , not an infectious disease epidemiologist.
— Carl T. Bergstrom (@ CT_Bergstrom) February 2, 2020
However he sallows in comparison to the bioweapon theoreticians at Zero Hedge( who were banned from Twitter as a result, apparently for doxxing a Chinese scientist) and let’s not forget to shake a paw of blamed at the people who announced/ linked to the much-debunked , non-peer-reviewed” signs of HIV introductions in the coronavirus” article online.
Science itself. Why would public link to that paper? Well, because non-peer-reviewed preprints are often mistaken by the general public for peer-reviewed science. Why are preprints so increasingly important? In part because horrid, greedy scientific publishers massively surcharge for access to scentific newspapers, often even when they’re funded under public money.
( ht Scott Aaronson) pic.twitter.com/ Ul7ql77ipY
— michael_nielsen (@ michael_nielsen) February 2, 2020
Social media. Not to belabor my dead horse here, but whatever it is you assure on your social media be defined by algorithms optimized for participation, which are often implies rage. That viral HOLY MOTHER OF GOD tweet would have been more of a minor blip if Twitter still kept to strict chronological timelines. Note that this would also construct “good” tweets far less viral. That “couldve been” the toll we paying off vacating the involvement algorithms, but it seems at least reasonable that it would overall to be translated into a better world.
General innumeracy: I mentioned that people were underreacting, very. I have realized so many self-identified galaxy-brain intellectuals advising others that it’s silly to be so concerned about the coronavirus when the flu is far more dangerous. I’ve even examined a handy Myths and Facts infographic wandering all over Facebook,’ informing’ us all that” the common flu kills 60 times bigger people yearly than Corona .”
People, the flu and nCoV-2 019 are not analogous. It’s apples to zebras. We know what to expect from the influenza: we don’t yet know what to expect from this new virus. That’s why it’s of concern. You especially cannot compare annual death tolls, since we don’t know what this new virus’s is, since it’s only existed in humen for 2 month. Sheesh.
Human nature. This is arguably the big one. On some height, everyone enjoys an cataclysm, in that it’s a narrative they entirely understand, one they can envision and have envisioned for themselves. So anything in the real world associated with an holocaust get sounds, commentary, and reshares.
I should know: when not writing for TechCrunch I happen to be the director of the GitHub Archive Program, which includes a whole cluster of present-day archiving, as well as very-long-term 1,000 -year storage which is primarily intended for historic or recovering-abandoned-technologies usage … and hitherto everyone’s brain, whenever I talk about it, immediately startles to” Canticle for Leibowitz” -style postapocalyptic situations, and remains there.
Which is fine! I intend, I appreciate that everyone’s interested in the project and has ideas about it, just as I appreciate that the coronavirus is a global public health emergency, and beings should be paying close attention to it. But our collective fondness for cataclysmic narratives, combined with the other writers above, may, if we’re not careful, transmute that attending into belief in goofy scheme philosophies and flagrant misinformation. Please stop to think before you believe, and before you share.
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