Neil deGrasse Tyson

I had the privilege of sitting in on a lecture from the American Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.  It was an enlightening evening to say the least.  Dr. Tyson is one of the few rational voices in my country.  He reminds me of how great the United States once was, and how great it could be again someday.


Anti-Bailers and Sinking Sailors: A Moral Dilemma

I once knew a sailor who had a boat with a small leak in it.

He jumped into the boat, and the water was up to his neck, and he started bailing the thing out…one scoop of water at a time, over and over he bailed out his boat…and it was great, after about a week or so the boat was almost empty…after a week and a half, it was pretty much completely dry!

But then, some of his neighbors came down to the pier and saw what he was doing, and got all angry at him…we’ll call these people the “anti-bailer crowd”.  The anti-bailer crowd hated water pumps and old milk cartons that could remove water from a boat…because they claimed such things caused fires and weren’t natural.

Yeah…fires…seriously, and even though there was zero evidence of any kind that water bailers caused fires, the anti-bailer crowd insisted that, because water was natural, it shouldn’t be bailed out of a boat…actually, not too many people understood what the anti-bailer crowd was so upset about, but they were angry and were convinced that there was a conspiracy from the Big-Bailer corporations who were making billions on selling water bailers to sailors.

They also believed that bailing water from a boat could cause autism…because, they said, bailers were coated with thimerosal…even though there has been no link found between thimerosal in bailers and autism…not a single shred of evidence…anyway, childhood bailers haven’t been coated with thimerosal since 2001 except for the inactivated multi-water bailers…and besides, thimerosal is broken down into ethyl mercury in the water…which is NOT the same as Methyl mercury…which you can find in some fish and other food sources.  It’s ethyl not methyl…you do understand that right?

Anyway…the anti-bailers failed to understand how water bailers work, and they failed to understand the fact that the sailors boat still had the leak.

My question to you is this:  should the sailor heed the advice of the anti-bailers and stop bailing water from his boat?…and if he does, what’s going to happen to his boat?

There are two simple questions there, and I’m asking you to answer them honestly.

Now…you might try and say that he should use some other method to remove the water from the boat…like, maybe emptying it with a sponge, or drinking the water…but that’s not being intellectually honest, because in that case the sponge or the sailors stomach has become the bailer…no, there’s no wiggle room here…and besides, that’s missing the point…ignoratio elenchi…alternate bailers may work, but they’re still bailers.

Just answer the question: Should the sailer stop bailing, and if he does what’s going to happen to his boat?

Let’s try another exercise, and be honest.

Let’s say that someone you love: a spouse, child or parent…has plans to go to a meeting of 1000 people, in a room, who have all contracted the Ebola virus: and they’ve got it bad, coughing, fever, all of the nasty symptoms I don’t have to mention to you.

Question: would you want your loved one to go to that meeting, in that room?

Yes or no?

Probably no, right?  Good choice.  Now…let’s say that instead of 1000 people infected with Ebola, there are 1000 people who just got back from West Africa…and they were working to help those suffering from Ebola…they may or may not be infected…we don’t know…but your loved one: a spouse, child or parent…has plans to meet with them in an auditorium somewhere.

Would you want them to go to the meeting?

Now…if you say yes you’re saying: “It’s okay that they risk their lives from possible exposure” but if you say no, and you’re someone who is against vaccinations such as those for Influenza, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, varicella, papillomavirus, measles, mumps, rubella, Meningococcal, Hepatitis A and B, just to name a few…if you say NO and are an anti-vaxer…then you have some explaining to do.

Because, it sounds like you’re saying that you don’t want to risk having your loved one exposed to a potentially deadly virus, but you don’t want to do anything to remove the threat of that virus: you don’t care that the boat is going to sink, you don’t mind moving the goal post every time a new boat bailer comes out…because polio is bad, but we never should have given people the polio vaccine because…well, because why?  

Fear.  That’s why.  Be honest with yourself…you’re afraid of what you don’t understand.  I get that: it’s a scary world out there and maybe you don’t trust the government or the pharmaceutical companies who manufacture vaccines…maybe you hate needles or just feel like medicine is made from bad chemicals….I don’t know, you have to have your reasons…but the boat is sinking, and if you’re not going to help bail out the boat, or if you’re going to stop me from bailing out the boat: you’re partly to blame when the damn thing sinks.

I am so sick and tired of anti-vaxers who fail to give a crap about herd immunity…who listen to stupid people who twist the truth, ignore the evidence and make up stories just because they don’t understand the science behind vaccinations and how they have helped to save so many millions of people in the world.

Last question, and again be honest:  With this Ebola thing that’s in the news…which by the way, you have a very low chance of contracting, it has an average reproductive ratio (the number of people who will catch the disease from someone who is infected) of only 2, compared to measles which is 18, whooping cough which is 17 and chicken pox which is also 17.

If Ebola did become a global pandemic…which with a reproductive ratio of 2 is extremely unlikely…but if it did, and IF they come out with a vaccine, there are currently two experimental vaccines being tested, by the way: one developed by GlaxoSmithKline and the other by the Public Health Agency of Canada…but if this disease became a global pandemic and there was a vaccine for it…would you want to be vaccinated against Ebola?

You know what ebola is, right? Hemorrhagic fever…it kills between 25 and 90% of those infected with it…so if a global pandemic of Ebola were to occur, there’s a very good chance that you, or someone you love would die from the disease…so, would you want to be vaccinated against Ebola if that were to happen?

This is a moral dilemma that only you can answer: but remember, if you say no then you’re risking personal death, or worse…spreading it to others…in a global pandemic that reproductive ratio increases from 2 to something much higher.

I'd like to know what you think.  Email me: steve@steverunner.com or send me a message on Facebook and Twitter…I want to know what you’d do, and please, explain why…remember, if you say yes you’ll have helped the herd immunity, but if you say no, then the only morally correct thing to do is to isolate yourself from all other human beings: let me know if you agree, and if not, why.

I have my own opinions on this of course, but I’m very curious to know yours.  I’ll read all the responds in a week or so, here on Intervals….let me know if I can use your name on the show.

If Ebola became a global pandemic, and if they had a vaccine against it: would you take the vaccine, yes or no…and why?  I look forward to hearing from you.