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Old 10-26-2005, 03:54 AM   #1
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Bird Flu and Superstition

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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.
link

The emergence of new viral strains is an example of evolution at work, and it gets difficult when you accept that evolution can occur at one scale but put a barrier there for larger scale (both physical and temporal) change.
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Old 10-26-2005, 06:52 AM   #2
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I find it hard to believe that most Americans don't believe in evolution. When you can virtually see something so obvious happening, I don't know how you can argue convincingly against it.
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Old 10-26-2005, 07:52 AM   #3
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Well you start saying that mutation occurs on small scales, i.e. bacteria, and selective pressures work there but larger scale change is impossible.
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Old 10-26-2005, 10:17 AM   #4
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I also find it difficult to believe that "most Americans" don't believe in evolution. I wouldn't be surprised if my state, Alabama, was predominantly creationist, given the number of Southern Baptists, but the country?
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Old 10-26-2005, 10:39 AM   #5
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My roommate doesn't believe in evolution, most people in my high school didn't either. It never ceases to amaze me.
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Old 10-26-2005, 10:46 AM   #6
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^ Is this strictly because of religiosity, do you think? Or is there perhaps a more general, cynical disaffectation with science involved?
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Old 10-26-2005, 10:54 AM   #7
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Strictly because of religiosity.
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Old 10-26-2005, 11:54 AM   #8
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This is quite a sophomoric analysis trying to link the bird flu with the creation/evolution debate. We've seen far too many mutations of viruses to support the idea that we "cannot talk logically about the bird flu".
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Old 10-26-2005, 11:57 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
This is quite a sophomoric analysis trying to link the bird flu with the creation/evolution debate.


there's no "debate."

there is science, and there is superstition.

to equate the two as somehow equally worthy views is completely false.
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Old 10-26-2005, 12:15 PM   #10
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Sorry, we are back to the one way conversation.
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Old 10-26-2005, 12:22 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
Sorry, we are back to the one way conversation.


sorry, but it's not as if the two things can even be in dialogue when we are dealing with science, which studies things that can be tested and quantified. you cannot do this with superstitions.

it's not even apples to oranges.
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Old 10-26-2005, 12:24 PM   #12
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Sounds like you agree then.
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Old 10-26-2005, 12:29 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
Sounds like you agree then.


yes, i agree with the fact that it is impossible to formulate a cogent, comprehensive policy in regards to a virus that is subject to the laws of science when we have to deal with increasing religiosity in the language of politicians and in the citizenry of many parts of the united states.

i think china and india are cheering -- we're going to lose our edge in math and science because things like evolution and creationism are somehow viewed as two subjects equally worthy of debate and consideration.

yet another example where blind, literal adherence to a centuries old text is a formula for getting people killed.
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Old 10-26-2005, 12:35 PM   #14
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*edited* Sorry, not worthy of a response.
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Old 10-26-2005, 12:39 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
I guess you are about inclusion unless it is something you want to exclude.

This one is effectively derailed.

Good bye.


well, good bye, but the point is that there isn't a debate. the two are not comparable, and it would be irresponsible for anyone not to speak out when the two are equated.

it amazes me how you can draw parallels between things like, say, social inclusion and then say that's the same thing as factual inclusion -- do we include non-facts in science classrooms? should we be sensitive to the beliefs of creationist when, as the article notes, evolutionary language is needed to understand and then create effective policy to combat something as deadly as this bird flu?

i'm not going to let people die so a creationist can feel included in the formulation of medical policy.
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