Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:This is related (Score 1) 267

Interesting. I hadn't heard of the possibility of "getting Ebola" but not getting any symptoms. Considering that you apparently can't transmit the disease unless you get the symptoms, would these asymptomatic Ebola people be able to transmit it to other people?

The words I'd use are "extremely unlikely". From what I've read, there's no evidence of viral shedding in exterior bodily fluids by these individuals (with the obvious caveat that such a statement probably requires extrapolation based on a small sample size). If someone in that state got a bad open wound, I suspect there would be a nonzero chance of spreading it, but only during a fairly short interval between when the blood's viral load became high enough for the immune system to notice it and when the viral load became low enough to be largely moot. Even during that period, it isn't clear how big that risk would be, but it is probably very small. Otherwise you'd see Ebola cases popping up randomly in affected countries, and you just don't see that in practice.

In any event, the only people who came down with Ebola symptoms after contact with a person with Ebola were those two nurses. It indicates that non-asymptomatic transmission of the disease isn't an easy thing to do. You won't get Ebola because you sat next to someone on the bus and they had Ebola. (Not unless your bus trips involve WAY more bodily fluid contact that the normal person's bus trip.)

Absolutely. There might be a very remote possibility if you make out with the soon-to-be Ebola patient, but it is pretty darn unlikely even then.

On the flip side, depending on which study you look at, assuming I read the paper correctly, anywhere from about half to three quarters of asymptomatic people who had close contact with an Ebola patient later tested positive for Ebola antibodies, and the resulting herd immunity for Ebola is likely to dampen outbreaks considerably.

Comment: Re:This is related (Score 1) 267

She is following standard Ebola protocol. It's the people calling for quarantine that aren't. She knows the protocol better than the governor who is (in my opinion) threatening her.

Sorry, but that's not her call to make. If a state wants to specify stricter protocols than the standard policies call for, that is well within their rights to do, so long as it is not overly burdensome. And in her state, they have done so, which means that no, she is not following standard Ebola protocol as defined in her state. You can't just allow people to ignore a quarantine order simply because they think they know better.

And it isn't just the governor who thinks that a 21-day quarantine period is reasonable. Lots of medical professionals and Nobel-winning immune system researchers do, too. In fact, it seems to be mostly politicians who are arguing against the quarantine.

Then again, there are also studies that suggest that 21 days may not be long enough. But I digress.

BTW, that second article from is worth reading, because the doctor/researcher in the article pretty much echoes what I've been saying—that Ebola may be transmissible even from asymptomatic patients in rare situations.

Comment: Re:This is related (Score 1) 267

The first symptom is developing a fever and it's apparent when you first start developing the fever you're still not contagious to any significant degree.

Wrong. Ebola viruses can be detected in the blood of some people who are asymptomatic. Although it is highly unlikely for Ebola to spread from an asymptomatic individual, it is *not* impossible.

How do you think the people that Thomas Eric Duncan was living with in Dallas avoided getting Ebola even though he was sent home from the ER after his first visit?

In all likelihood? The same way that 46% of close contacts of Ebola victims showed antibodies for Ebola despite never showing symptoms.

If it was all that contagious some of them would have been infected too.

I never said it was highly contagious. I said that the probability of spreading it was nonzero. And I stand by that comment.

Comment: Re:This is related (Score 1) 267

by dgatwood (#48272635) Attached to: Ebola Forecast: Scientists Release Updated Projections and Tracking Maps

Careful there. She has no symptoms, so she is very unlikely to be contagious. IMO, it is fine for her to ride her bike, because she won't be interacting with anyone else while doing so. I would be concerned if she rode her bike to the corner store and bought milk, however, because near-zero risk isn't zero, and symptoms don't go from zero to deathly ill in a couple of seconds. There's a period of time between when a person technically becomes symptomatic and when that person notices the symptoms, during which his or her ability to spread the disease increases from essentially zero to being fully contagious.

Comment: Re:This is related (Score 1) 267

by dgatwood (#48272567) Attached to: Ebola Forecast: Scientists Release Updated Projections and Tracking Maps

She, knowing something about the subject, assumes she knows everything about the subject, and believes that there is no need for her to be in any quarantine whatsoever. Unfortunately, people with that attitude are at the highest risk of spreading disease, because when they start showing symptoms, they're much more likely to believe that their protective measures cannot possibly have been breached, and to thus assume that they have a minor stomach bug until it gets more serious, by which time they have spread it to other people. In short, her behavior strongly suggests that the folks calling for quarantines are absolutely correct in doing so.

This is not to say that the way they're handling the quarantine is correct. It isn't. There's no risk of exposure from her going on a bike ride, any more than there's a risk from the guy up at Stanford going for a jog, just as long as they avoid any direct contact with other people. So she's right that the absoluteness of the quarantine is pointless and unnecessary. That doesn't make the quarantine itself unnecessary. After all, in just the first couple of weeks of Ebola on our shores, several medical workers have already shown poor judgment, and have put people unnecessarily at risk by doing so.

Comment: Re:This is related (Score 1) 267

by dgatwood (#48272393) Attached to: Ebola Forecast: Scientists Release Updated Projections and Tracking Maps

The total number of Ebola transmissions in this case? Two nurses who took care of him during the times when he was VERY infectious and a minor breach in protocol could mean infection.

To be pedantic, those two nurses were the only Ebola cases resulting from that patient. It is possible to contract Ebola and remain asymptomatic, so there is probably a small chance of other transmission events besides those two, depending on how careful they've been at testing for antibodies.

Comment: Re:This is related (Score 1) 267

by dgatwood (#48272215) Attached to: Ebola Forecast: Scientists Release Updated Projections and Tracking Maps

The science, so far, suggests that people aren't shedding virus (infective) until they start developing symptoms.

That's not precisely correct. As I understand it, the symptoms of a virus are largely caused by the body's reaction to shedding (when cells explode and send viruses throughout the body), so with any virus, you do start shedding prior to when you show symptoms, by definition. In Ebola's case, there's not a lot of time between those two events, assuming your immune system is working normally, but "not a lot of time" is not "zero time".

I find it regrettable that the CDC use exaggerated statements like "zero chance" to counter panic. It would be more accurate to say that there have been no reports of Ebola spreading from someone who is not showing symptoms, which means it is highly unlikely that someone would catch it in that way, in large part because IIRC the viral load in semi-external fluids like sweat, tears, and saliva is relatively low even when symptomatic, and the symptoms that spread other bodily fluids haven't kicked in at that point.

Put another way, IMO, there's no detectable risk if a potentially exposed person goes out for a jog or a bike ride, so long as that person doesn't interact with other people. However, that doesn't mean the person shouldn't be quarantined to prevent interaction with other people, but rather that the groups overseeing the quarantines should make allowances for certain zero-exposure activities.

Comment: Re:Politically correct travel restrictions claptra (Score 1) 267

by dgatwood (#48271719) Attached to: Ebola Forecast: Scientists Release Updated Projections and Tracking Maps

How many people have been infected by contact with Amber Vinson?

Ask again in a week. She only flew two weeks and three days ago, and IIRC, the plane was used for additional flights for a couple of days after that before they went through and sanitized everything, so the worst-case incubation period doesn't end until a week from yesterday.

Comment: Re:Summary doesn't support headline (Score 1) 300

by dgatwood (#48267491) Attached to: We Are All Confident Idiots

But thinking you can "take the time to learn" about areas in which we do not have the confidence/knowledge is a delusion. The totality of knowledge is vast*. I know nothing about music, and as a teen I decided it could stay that way (having seen how music can eat up some people's lives). You will never see me express an opinion about music.

By contrast, I spent a significant chunk of my life in musical ensembles, and now routinely make snarky comments on Facebook about judging musical works based on the average number of measures per serious error made by the composer (or for sacred choral music, vice-versa, horrifyingly), interspersed with comments about XML parsers, obscure bits of the EPUB specification, and USB device quirks. But I digress.

I think we're actually pretty much in agreement here. I'm not saying that I think I could feasibly have enough knowledge to have an answer for everything, but rather that if I feel the need to have an opinion on something, I'll learn enough to not come out looking like a complete idiot. And I'll be reasonably confident that I'm right because I learned enough to form an opinion based on actual facts, with references to back those opinions up. I might still be proven wrong if I overlooked some subtlety, but I'll be right way more often than not. Much like you, if I don't know enough to state something with... let's say 90% confidence or better, I generally won't say anything at all, or at best, will express it in a way that makes it clear that I'm not confident about it, and that I'd like folks to discuss it openly.

Of course, this occasionally leads me down a rabbit hole, where I'm curious enough to form an opinion about something, and end up burning hours doing research, digging into statistics, etc., only to conclude that it really wasn't as interesting as it initially seemed, but that's the price of critical thinking, I suppose.

Comment: Re:Don't get mad, get even (Score 2) 436

by dgatwood (#48256017) Attached to: Ken Ham's Ark Torpedoed With Charges of Religious Discrimination

I just keep thinking how unfortunate it is that they put it in northern KY. If it were closer to the southern edge, it would be in direct competition with Discovery Park of America. Incidentally, if you're in western KY or west TN, that's worth the drive. While you're down there, take a drive through Reelfoot, have some catfish or frog legs, and then go bald eagle watching.

Comment: Re:I'm I smart? I guess I'll never know. (Score 2) 300

by dgatwood (#48255793) Attached to: We Are All Confident Idiots

Of course that could just be Dunning-Kruger blinding me to the brilliance of the current Republican vision.

Quite the opposite. The Dunning-Kruger effect exhibited by those candidates blinds people to their general ignorance and lack of knowledge of even relatively recent history, economics, technology, or really much of anything as far as I can tell. They campaign on a few wedge issues that they know they'll never actually make progress on (e.g. abortion), while showing utter incompetence at everything they touch.

Mind you, the Democrats aren't all that great, either. Given free reign, they tend to spend more and more money on social programs without critically evaluating whether those programs work, raise taxes to pay for it, and end up just making a mess of things.

Economically, what we need is a group of people who are true fiscal conservatives. That means people who are careful about spending money and who constantly reevaluate programs to ensure that the money is being used effectively (which the Democrats fail at). That also means people who know not to spend huge amounts of money on credit, hoping that economic expansion will "fix" their crippling debt (which the Republicans fail at). That means not pumping money into their cronies' businesses (which both parties fail at, just with different cronies). That means setting up tax systems that don't favor the wealthy with lower tax rates under a false belief that this will create jobs (which the Republicans fail at), and that don't overly burden small businesses that create jobs (which the Democrats fail at). And it also means creating an environment that favors competition while disrupting monopolies (which the Republicans badly fail at, and the Democrats also often fail at).

From there, we need people who defend liberty and civil rights, and who stand up for those who are powerless. Both Democrats and Republicans suck at that, just in different ways. Both parties attack the fourth amendment. Republicans and some Democrats (e.g. Hillary Clinton) attack the free speech aspects of the first. Republicans vigorously defend freedom of religion, but only for Christian religions. Democrats attack the second amendment. And neither party respects the remaining amendments very much, with the exception of the third (which nobody cares much about).

Comment: Re:Summary doesn't support headline (Score 1) 300

by dgatwood (#48255585) Attached to: We Are All Confident Idiots

And the smarter (or more competent) they are, the more likely they are to believe that their field of competence extends to other things....

The smarter they are, the more likely they are to have read enough about those other things to be somewhat competent at them, so at least to some degree, they are probably correct in that belief, at least by comparison with a person picked at random from outside the field in question.

There are certain personality types that seem to exhibit the Dunning-Kruger effect more than others. I've known plenty of people who act like they know way more than they do, and in my experience, most of them also don't like to be corrected when they are wrong, and will vigorously defend their incorrect beliefs even when presented with incontrovertible evidence that they are factually wrong. They tend to use ad hominem attacks at staggering rates, and they refuse to adapt their world view to accommodate new knowledge. Basically, these people stopped learning at some point in their lives because they cling so rigidly to a very limited world view. This dogmatism makes them feel confident, likely because they lack actual confidence, and make up for that lack with false bravado.

Those of us who are driven primarily by a quest for knowledge and understanding, by contrast, usually behave confidently when we're confident, and when we aren't, we take the time to learn enough to become confident. And when proven wrong, we incorporate the conflicting information into our world view, and try to figure out why it conflicts with our expectations. After all, knowing that a fact is incorrect is irrelevant without understanding why it is incorrect. Otherwise, your entire world view eventually becomes a collection of discrete facts with no unifying understanding, and you'll be left guessing which facts matter in which situation.

That said, this is just my personal experience, and it could easily be skewed by the sorts of people that I interact with. So I could be wrong; feel free to prove me wrong, but if you do, be prepared to provide factual support, or I will usually counter your arguments with factual support of my own. :-)

Comment: Re:Funny (Score 1) 339

by dgatwood (#48254745) Attached to: LAX To London Flight Delayed Over "Al-Quida" Wi-Fi Name

There's no one right way, but there are plenty of wrong ways. A transliterated word is considered misspelled if the transliteration cannot possibly be pronounced in a way that sounds similar to the original. The spellings "Al Qaeda" and "Al Qaida" are considered correct, because it is typically pronounced "Al Kah ee dah" or "Al Kie dah". You might even consider "Al Kaida", "Al Kaeda", "Al Caida", or "Al Caeda" to be plausible transliterations, albeit highly nonstandard ones.

However, "Al Quida" is not correct, period. In English, that would be pronounced "Al quid uh", or if you assume it was a borrowed Spanish word, "Al Kee duh", neither of which is a reasonable approximation of the original pronunciation as far as I'm aware.

That said, at least they didn't transliterate it as the "Al Pastor Terror Network". I mean, that is by far the tastiest terror network of them all, but it is clearly not a correct transliteration.

Comment: Re:This was no AP. (Score 1) 339

by dgatwood (#48254499) Attached to: LAX To London Flight Delayed Over "Al-Quida" Wi-Fi Name

Here's something fun you can try: Buy a bottle of nitromethane (model aircraft fuel, also Top Fuel racing), put it in a plastic spray bottle, and spray it on seats where departing passengers are likely to sit. Then get arrested because you're in a crowded fucking airport spraying nitromethane on the seats in front of hundreds of witnesses.

Wouldn't work anyway unless those passengers were subjected to enhanced patdowns; walking through a metal detector or body scanner doesn't usually subject you to a sniffer, AFAIK.

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality through not dying. -- Woody Allen