Ebola and the Construction of Fear
by Karen Sternheimer (Everyday Sociology)
"Sociologist Barry Glassner, author of The Culture of Fear: Why Americans are Afraid of the Wrong Things, explains how misguided panics are not just benign opportunities to prevent something horrible, but can divert attention and public funds away from more likely threats. He notes:
Panic-driven public spending generates over the long term a pathology akin to one found in drug addicts. The money and attention we fritter away on our compulsions, the less we have available for our real needs, which consequently grow larger (p. xvii).
According to new data released by the CDC yesterday,
more Americans are surviving cancer
thanks to advances in increased early detection and treatment
. CDC analysis shows an unprecedented 20% increase in survival rates between 2001 and 2007, which is nearly a quadruple increase since 1971
. [more inside]
Half of young Americans to get STDs
- so say several collected studies by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and others. Can the Bush administration's plan to double abstinence-only spending
solve this problem? Or can the argument be made that keeping condoms out of the classrooms causes more STDs than prevents?
CDC posts medical alert for atypical pneumonia.
There is travel alert for those traveling from Asian countries around and in China. It seems that this type of pnenumonia has been found in North America. Symptoms include fever and hard-of-breathing. More articles about the disease here.
"A mysterious epidemic, hitherto unknown, which had struck terror into all hearts by the rapidity of its spread, the ravages it made, and the apparent helplessness of the physicians to cure it." — on syphillis, in the 16th centruy.
Highlights from the CBC's 1996 Ideas shows on AIDS in historical perspective, available in real audio for downloading or streaming. I remember stopping the car and listening to the whole thing four years ago: "The programs underline how a whole series of biological, psychological and social factors shape the public's perception of disease, and society's response to it. The strengths and limits of past approaches to detecting sexually transmitted diseases are explored, in order to shed light on approaches that could be used to control AIDS today."
Four out of 10 people mistakenly believe
it is possible to get HIV by sharing a drinking glass or being coughed or sneezed on by an infected person. The survey, released Thursday, was conducted by the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "It's scary that so many people are still so ignorant of what
causes HIV-AIDS," said Marty Algaze, a spokesman for
the Gay Men's Health Crisis. "Almost 20 years into this
epidemic, it's disturbing that people think you could still
get it from casual contact."