Friday, February 26, 2016

Sandman & Lanard On Zika Rumors : It’s The Outrage, Not The Hazard


Last night NBC's inimitable Maggie Fox wrote a very smart piece - using input from a variety of experts including Peter Sandman & Jody Lanard - on how to effectively deal with the inevitable slew of rumors that have emerged surrounding the Zika virus.

If you haven't read it yet, I would urge you to do so.

Is It Really GMOs or Insecticides? What's Behind the Bogus Zika Rumors

Rumors - some wildly implausible, and others possible but without evidence - are nothing new on the Internet, and as a blogger I struggle every day with how to deal with them in this space. 
My goal is to keep an open mind, but not so open my brains fall out. But like most `hard science' writers, I suffer from rumor fatigue.

The attack of the anti-vaxers during and after the 2009 H1N1 pandemic (see The Monsters Are Due On Vaccine Street) forced me to stop printing (and incessantly responding to) readers comments, the majority of which denounced the evils of `big pharma', Tamiflu, and vaccination or promoted `alternative' treatments like homeopathy.

I try not to ignore rumors outright, particularly when they have the potential of being right - or worse - causing harm, but I try not to let this blog become an echo chamber for them (see Brazil: The MOH Addresses The Larvacide Debate).
And I also try to apply the same standards to government propaganda, biased or uninformed media reports, and `forward looking' press releases from universities and research companies. 

But it is not easy. And like everyone else, I have my own biases.  And I'm sure that affects what I decide is `credible' or not.  

Luckily for me, and the rest of us, risk communications experts Dr. Peter Sandman & Dr. Jody Lanard have given a great deal of thought on why rumors are so well entrenched in our culture, and how best to deal with them.

Last night they published a longer version of their comments to Maggie Fox, and as always, they provide us with a lot to think about. While I'd love to print some excerpts, there is simply too much good stuff here to pick and choose from.  

So follow the link to read: 

Zika Rumors

(a February 22, 2016 email in response to a query from Maggie Fox of NBC)
Maggie Fox’s February 25 article drew from this email.

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