Friday, April 24, 2020

On Diversity

Lately, I've seen friends delete friends on Facebook over differing political views. I've heard people say that they only read news from their political persuasion. I've also read story after story about how people live in echo chambers today, especially on social media.

I'd like to suggest that you keep the friends you disagree with, that you read news from sources you normally wouldn't, and diversify your friend group––whether that's in-person or online.

From the most selfish perspective, this kind of diversity would allow you to see how "the other side" feels about you or organizations you belong to, and you'd be able to formulate rebuttals and counterpoints. There's an even greater benefit, though: You might actually learn something about yourself and others. You might learn that you are wrong about something. You might learn that you are right about something but that your delivery is wrong. You might learn that someone from another perspective has a valid point and you shouldn't discredit everything he or she says. You might learn something about the other person's feelings and fears and get a better understanding of why they think they way they do. You might learn to see the world in a nuanced, inclusive, and loving way, rather than a black-and-white, us-and-them, sometimes-hateful way.

It's just a thought.

It's something I try to do, and I think my life is richer for it.

Thing I'm thankful for: dark chocolate cake!

Friday, April 03, 2020


Well, everyone, I'm sure you've been dying to know what another one of your non-epidemiologist friends thinks about the pandemic we're in, so I'll satisfy your impatience and tell you: It stinks. What's more, I don't think the United States government or high-level executives at large corporations have done a good job at helping anyone out. Let me explain:
  • My friend who's an epidemiologist said that public health workers have known about an impending pandemic for at least a decade. They've been talking to government officials and corporations about it for years. They've explained what they know and what they've learned from other public health threats and emergencies and discussed ways to be prepared. It doesn't seem like many organizations took them seriously.
  • My mom and friend recently posted this article on Facebook: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus as an agent of emerging and reemerging infection. It's a microbiologist's research published in 2007 that supports my first point above, which is that this pandemic was not a curveball from the universe. It was a known problem. Sure, infectious disease experts did not know the exact time that this pandemic would happen, but they knew within the last decade to expect it.
  • I just received my copy of Spillover in the mail today. Here's the sub-heading: "Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic." The author is Dan Quammen, an award-winning science, nature, and travel writer. In 2012, even he knew a pandemic was looming in the near future.
These are are just some of the things that point to negligence and irresponsibility on the part of our country's top leaders and corporate executives. Because of my friend, I know for a fact that public health agencies held conferences for CEOs and other corporate executives to talk about pandemic preparedness. I know for a fact that microbiologists, immunologists, and epidemiologists have been following this pandemic trail for years, as evidenced by that 2007 study. And I know for a fact that this impending pandemic was so anticipated that a popular science writer wrote an entire 500+ page book about it. What happened to our country's government and business leaders???? They didn't heed the warnings from experts, and now they don't know how to lead the country.

None of this is to say that people––even government leaders and CEOs––shouldn't ever be forgiven of their faults or oversights. It's not to say that they are horrible, awful people. I certainly wouldn't want to be the president of a country.

What I am saying is that we need to start electing leaders who lean on the knowledge of experts. I'm saying that we need to start holding large corporations accountable for frivolous spending, especially when they get huge tax credits.

That's it, I guess. That's where I stand.

Thing I'm thankful for: eating ice cream sandwiches in the sunshine