Mental Scars and Hate over SARS
SARS, as I have written, is the greatest mass-hysteria of our time. Which is to say a lot of people got great enjoyment from it. So it wasn't any surprise that I got plenty of hate mail for raining on the panickers' parades. And to put it bluntly and quite immodestly, I was right and essentially the entire rest of the media were wrong. Fortunately, unlike with AIDS, my vindication came in just a couple of months rather than many years. (Also, I didn't lose any jobs over my SARS writing, compared to two lost jobs over AIDS.) As I write this, only ten new cases were reported yesterday. The worldwide death rate is not the 15 percent we were told it would eventually be, but rather nine percent. The First World death rate, aside from Canada, is zero percent. Far from being the worldwide pandemic the media portrayed, 83 percent of all cases are in China (including Hong Kong) and 85 percent of the nations of the world stubbornly refused to get a single case. Total worldwide deaths are 772, which is a bit more than the number of Americans who die of flu per week. It's also a hair below the 40 million deaths from the flu pandemic of 1918-1919 that the media repeatedly have compared SARS to – including a lengthy article in today's Washington Post as I write this. So I took away their panic, which is one reason to hate my guts, and I was right, which is another reason to hate my guts. But there are other reasons to hate my guts, too, so this is not a hate mail section devoted to a single topic. In fact, I've split up the SARS letters because there are a lot of data in them and scattered them like little virus-filled droplets from a sneeze. Slap on that medical mask and don't get too close to your computer screen.
I looked into your qualifications as shown on the website to the Hudson Institute. Strangely it seems that you have no academic background in health science or in any other area of science. Maybe that explains in part how you can be mistaken in an area where you do not have any special expertise. You should leave this sort of writing to those who are qualified to comment on the disease.
If you really looked at my website, you'd see I've written on health issues since 1986 – 17 years. I have four health books to my name with one about to be published. I have been in many of the nation's top magazines and am the only full-time health columnist for Scripps Howard. I have lectured the Harvard School of Epidemiology on the subject of epidemiology! Meanwhile, I looked at the website of where you work. "We specialize in training in radiation safety, radiochemistry and related areas," it declares. I'm just a bit befuddled about how that would give you expertise in the etiology, epidemiology, and treatment of a viral pathogen. Maybe that explains in part how you can be mistaken in an area where you do not have any special expertise. You should leave this sort of writing to those who are qualified to comment on the disease.
No, I can't explain the high death rate in Canada. It seems the Canadians have some explaining to do, with that wonderful socialized health care system they love to brag about. Can you explain why out of 102 Americans and Europeans thus far diagnosed with SARS there has yet to be a single death? (That's a death rate of zero percent, Robert.) You claim "there is no reason to expect a huge difference [in mortality] for SARS" even while it's obvious there is. China's death rate exceeds eight percent. The obvious explanation is better health care. Regarding your assertion about mortality differences with flu, please provide your source.
It seems to me that unless you can provide evidence as to why I'm not qualified to write about these serious things, you should probably stick to radioactivity. In fact, I think your contractors would probably feel a lot safer if you took early retirement.
The difference in my qualifications and yours is that I have spent many hours working in chemical laboratories, many hundreds of hours in studying chemistry, physics and related subjects, including organic chemistry and biochemistry, which is the foundation of medicine. On the other hand, there is not the slightest indication, from your biography, that you have had any courses along those lines. I think that your ignorance of science shows in your work and in your outlandish ideas about AIDS and SARS.
My, but you're full of enough hot air to float the Hindenburg! Despite desperate efforts, using every brain cell at your disposal, you simply could not refute my SARS position. So you fall back on attacking credentials. But, wait, it gets better. Your credentials are as a chemist. You know, chemicals and all that. Those don't exactly seem to be the credentials somebody would need to understand the etiology and epidemiology of a viral pathogen. I, meanwhile, have been writing on those very subjects for 17 years. In fact, it's my job while yours is working for a company that deals with radioactivity.
As to my AIDS book, just what "scientific establishment" was it that gave it that "well-deserved drubbing." Was it Alexander Langmuir, M.D., former chief epidemiologist at the CDC, who called it, "A signal contribution to our understanding of the AIDS epidemic in the United States," and said "Fumento has marshaled the epidemiological evidence with courage, conviction, and compassion. His is a major contribution, allaying public hysteria and focusing efforts for control and care to the high-risk groups most in need." Perhaps it was the JAMA review that said, "This is a backlash book that is thoroughly researched, poignantly written, and a must-read for anyone interested in learning the dynamics of the HIV epidemic or health care planning . . . . Fumento's book is currently the best single source available to enable heterosexual persons to assess their personal risk and, as an informed electorate, take a closer look at overall health care spending, particularly the power of political action committees, the media hype, and the influence of AIDS alarmists."
No, that doesn't seem to support you. How about the review in the New England Journal of Medicine that stated, "Mr. Fumento marshals a substantial amount of epidemiological data and interprets it in a credible fashion to support his contention. He demonstrates successfully that the `heterosexual breakout' widely predicted in the mid-1980s has failed to materialize and does not seem likely to. The book is well worth reading for this critical reinterpretation of the available data." Still striking out, aren't we, Bob? Well, there's still the British Medical Journal. Alas for you, it called the book a "tour de force."
That was a book about a viral pathogen, Bobby ol' boy. It had nothing to do with chemistry and radioactivity. Most importantly, that "outlandish" book was 100 percent correct. I'm the guy who was right when everybody else was wrong. I've now had 14 more years of medical writing , while you've spent your time walking around with radioactive isotopes in your knickers.
Get a clue, man; you are utterly and totally clueless.
The seriousness of SARS can be seen by a simple comparison of the death rates of flu and SARS. Here is a quote from the CDC about the average number of annual deaths in the United States from flu:
"Most people who get the flu recover fully within 1-2 weeks. However, some people develop serious, life-threatening complications such as pneumonia. In an average season, flu is associated with 20,000 deaths nationwide."
Other estimates of the number of people who get flu each year range from 20 to 40 percent of the population. I can believe 20 percent, although 40 sounds a bit high. If we use 20 percent, that means that about 56 million people in the U.S. get flu each year and about 20,000 die from its complications. That corresponds to a death rate from flu of 0.03 percent. The best estimate of the SARS death rate that was published recently is 15 percent. So we can say that the death rate from SARS is approximately 500 times greater than the flu death rate. Maybe there are some errors and this is an over estimate [sic], but clearly even if the difference is only 100 times rather than 500 times, it is certainly a totally different and far more serious disease than flu.
You are not doing the country any favors by down playing the seriousness of SARS. In fact if you have not seen or done this arithmetic yourself, as I have done, then you have not done your homework.
You are sadly mistaken to claim that SARS is far less serious than flu. It is almost as contagious, and has a far higher death rate. You can refute this only by showing that there is something wrong with my figures, either with the death rate from flu or the death rate from SARS. I will be waiting to see your evidence.
You see, Bob, this is where a combination of having absolutely no
understanding of disease pathology (or thinking that a chemistry background
is the equivalent) combined with incredible arrogance gets you in trouble.
I have no idea where you got that information from, but contrast it with
this from the CDC website at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/flu/fluinfo.htm:
Everything you need to know is in that single sentence if you understand one other thing: The SARS cases being reported to and by WHO are not ALL SARS cases, they are essentially those that have been hospitalized. As of today, nine percent of those have died. Your "best estimate," as determined by you the chemist, is actually taken from a single study in a single city that was skewed towards persons most likely to die, namely the elderly.
In order to keep apples with apples, we're going to look at reported SARS cases versus reported SARS deaths and reported U.S. flu hospitalizations versus reported U.S. flu deaths. If 114,000 are hospitalized and 36,000 die, that's a death rate of 31 percent – double your false 15 percent claim and over triple the actual SARS death rate. (Naturally, the vast majority of flu sufferers never go to the hospital, so the actual fatality rate is far lower. But the same must be true for SARS sufferers.)
Meanwhile, and if I have to point it out one more time I'll scream, the SARS death rate in both the U.S. and Europe is zero. What part of zero don't you understand, Bob? Do you go around applying malaria death rates to the U.S., too? What about deaths from sleeping sickness from tsetse flies? Does that keep you awake at night in your snug American bed?
Now I am through with you. If you had so much as two brain cells to rub together or the least sense of humility you would have quit while you were behind long ago. Your ignorance and arrogance are matched by a horrible case of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Do the world a favor and take your Geiger counter and test the radioactivity put off by the next Pakistani or Indian nuclear weapon. And do it at ground zero.
[As you might guess, he kept writing and writing and writing and I kept deleting and deleting. But once the epidemic was dead, we did have this exchange when I rubbed his nose in his droppings.]
Your problem is that you are not very bright. You were wrong about SARS.
It was stopped only because the various governments took swift action.
You still do not understand that the fatality rate is far higher than
with flu. There are still many unknowns
The various agencies dealing with it recognized that, but of course you,
with no education
You seem to get an ego boost from saying various derogatory things about those who disagree with you. I predict you will not have a successful career in this type of work.
Gee, you were so proud of yourself when you thought you’d be proved right. Now that you know you were dead wrong (whether you wish to admit it or not), you’re hiding under the bed sheets. Don’t worry; your company affiliation has been pulled down. Nobody will now know that you’re Laughingstock Bob.
Let me give you Mike’s hierarchy of stupidity, which amounts to four levels. At the top are those who are smart and know it; then there are those who are smart but don’t know it; then those who are dumb but at least they don’t know it; and finally there are those who are idiots but think they’re smart. You clearly occupy the fourth tier. Everything I said about SARS came to pass; everything you said about SARS was wrong. Moreover, you were so steeped in stupidity that you thought it overrode my right to free expression to the extent you directly wrote to my boss and demanded that he force me to stop writing about SARS. So you’re not only a pinhead; you’re a tyrant.
As everybody but you seems to understand, governments did exactly the opposite of taking swift action. The first SARS case was in November, yet China covered up the epidemic until March. Only then, too, did WHO get involved. In any event, alarmists like you should have factored in that governments would take action. You sound like Paul Ehrlich saying he really was right that there would be massive famine in the 1970s and absolutely nobody could avoid it, but that he hadn’t foreseen the Green Revolution in which we were able to tremendously increase yields. The fact is, he was wrong about the famine regardless of any reason he might give. Moreover, it should have occurred to him that as the need for food increased the ability to supply that need would improve. Did it not occur to you that actions would be taken to control SARS, even as those actions were already taking place?
You are also too ignorant to understand that, as I discussed in my post-mortem, fatality rates mean nothing if you don’t take into account the overall number of cases. Okay, sure, SARS has a higher death rate than flu. It remains that flu will kill 250,000 to 500,000 people this year while SARS has petered out at slightly more than 800. Personally, I see that as making flu the more serious disease; but who am I to argue with Bob the Great, who knows everything there is to know about pathogens, etiology, and epidemiology by virtue of having a science degree? Once again, you attack me for not having the proper initials after my name; once again I respond by noting that my track record, which began with AIDS, remains at 100 percent. Yours, from what I can tell, is zero percent.
Finally, I trust you also predict that Al Gore will win the presidential election in 2,000 and that we will never be able to put a man on the moon. After a string of 16 years of successes, your prediction comes just a wee bit late.
More SARS Hate
Your Assertion Angers the People
"Hong Kong's medical care system has gone to pieces since the communists took over"?
Hey Michael, in which [sic] planet are you living? HK's medical care system is the same as ever, much like almost everything else after the handover. Come have a look by yourself, if you don't believe it.
I'm sure the Chinese government has given you an extra red star for rushing to their defense, but while you're politically correct you're factually wrong. I have been over there and I have friends there, and they completely contradict what you say. Here's the Washington Post's take on the current state, written from Hong Kong:
* * *
The SARS epidemic has hit China at a time of turmoil in its health care system. Once the pride of this nation, the country's socialist health care system, with its "barefoot doctors" and free clinics, has collapsed. In its place has emerged a dog-eat-dog medical system that benefits the rich and generally hurts the poor, Chinese economists and public health researchers say.
Market-oriented reforms have meant that subsidies for health care have dried up. Most hospitals now rely on their own ability to generate revenue to stay in business. Medical facilities routinely demand money up front for treatment and medicine.
* * *
Offhand, comrade Enzo, I'd say that doesn't support your position too well.
Wouldn't it be Simpler to Just Nuke China?
Dear Mr. Fumento:
The public health response to this challenge in the United States as well as to the West Nile virus has been, at best, phlegmatic. An aggressive public health response to West Nile could probably have eliminated this threat here. I suspect that it is now inevitable that West Nile will be endemic here and result in many deaths annually as the disease migrates north. These are deaths that probably could have been prevented.
We have dodged the bullet so far but unless more aggressive public health measures are put in place I suspect that we will have an ongoing emergence of contagious, deadly, antibiotic-resistant diseases.
Southeast Asia is a fertile environment for the development of new, antibiotic-resistant strains of diseases for a number of reasons:
I believe that until the problems listed above are remedied, particularly the antibiotics issue, prudence in public health would require that travelers from China, in particular, should be quarantined for a common-sense period before entering the country. Better yet, prohibit air travel from China entirely in favor of the built-in quarantine of sea travel.
Dear Mr. Schuler:
It is not "disingenuous" to "compare the morbidity and mortality statistics of long-established diseases endemic in the population with newly emerging strains," though it may be improper to do so for exactly the opposite reason you gave. First, we don't know that SARS is newly-emergent. There is no evidence either way. We know that it resembles in many ways the flu and that like the flu it kills essentially through pneumonia. Thus it's entirely possible that we've long had SARS in China and elsewhere but that it's been called something else. Now that we know exactly what we're dealing with, even to the point of mapping the SARS genome in a record-setting 10 days, this potentially will lead to superior treatments. Moreover, flu treatment hasn't improved much in decades precisely because it's been around so long. SARS, being newly identified, lends itself to rapid advances in treatment for the secondary infections through which it kills. You also conveniently ignore the zero percent death rate in the First World. If we could apply First World treatment to China, the mortality rate for SARS would be well below that of the flu.
West Nile is endemic here; that's not even debatable. Last year it killed about 280 Americans and my guess is it will kill more this year. That compares to zero SARS deaths. You say the response to SARS here has been phlegmatic, thus crippling your own case. As of my writing this, there were 63 U.S. SARS cases with no new ones reported in several days. Thus even with your "phlegmatic" response, we've seen only a tiny number of SARS cases. Why? Because in a country like this as well as in the E.U, this is an extremely difficult disease to spread.
Finally, your whole section on antibiotic-resistance displays true ignorance on your part. SARS is a virus; antibiotics work only against bacteria. Your quarantine suggestion shows almost equal ignorance. As of today, China (including Hong Kong) has reported 6,360 cases with the increase in infections steadily slowing. That's an infection rate of 0.00048. For that we going to slap such draconian restriction on Chinese travel to the U.S.? My, what a wonderful way to maintain good relations with the world's largest planet!
Let the Public Make up Their Own Minds – Even if They Don't Have One
Ross & Phyllis [omitted]
Dear Ross & Phyllis:
I ran your letter through one of those free Internet translation services. Here's what came out: "We don't like what you had to say but are unable or unwilling to say why. We didn't like it because we had made up our own minds long before you wrote about the issue. Probably we're part of the crowd that loves to rag on Ritalin, but it's a lot easier attacking you personally than defending an indefensible position."
Amazing what computer translators can do these days, isn't it?
More SARS Hate
Please Teach Me to Use the Internet
Would you be kind enough to direct me to your "reliable" sources that show that Ribaviran [sic] is in any way effective against SARS?
Dear Mr. Michaels:
I just put "ribavirin" and "SARS" into the "Google News" search engine and came up with 126 mentions of the two in the same article. Could you please learn to use a search engine before questioning people whose job it is to write articles, not to do other people's homework?
P.S. But before you enter something into a search engine, it helps to be able to know how to spell it.
Geez mike, now I see how you get your so called "reliable" information.
My reliable medical sources indicate Ribaviran [sic] is USELESS against coronavirus.
Your creditials [sic] are now questionable.
Oh, ow, you're killing me! Some guy with absolutely no credentials himself other than the ability to poke on a keyboard is questioning mine. And prithee sir, what is YOUR source?
[He wrote back one more time with a smarmy answer asking if I were related to chronic media liar Peter Arnett.]
Short but Stupid
Dear Mr. Fumento,
Your critique of Nader's stand against a war on Iraq would be more convincing if it weren't so obvious that you are lying.
Dear Mr. Young:
Your defense of Saddam Hussein's brutal dictatorship would be more convincing if you could have come up with so much as a single instance as to how I was lying.
Nobody's Greater than Mr. Ralph Nader
Dear Mister Fumento,
I, being a sterotypical [sic] Massachusetts yankee [sic], got fed up and disgusted with the Democratic Party, moribund and corrupt as it is in this state, long ago. But I have been increasingly disgusted with our President and his contemptible beholdenness to the Christian Right, and to the Military Industrial Complex [Does anybody still really use that term?] Country Club Republocrats. He is not steering us in the right direction. Thanks for your time.
You're right; it doesn't do him justice. The man has been a grandstander and scoundrel his whole life. He made his entry into the public arena by attacking a car, the Corvair, as "Unsafe at Any Speed." Yet the Corvair was as safe as any car when taking into account its small size. Now the same Ralph Nader blasts Americans for driving vehicles that are too big. Gee Mr. Goldilocks, can you give us vehicle size specifications that are "just right"? My point about the essentially non-existent turnout of Nader supporters was that HE couldn't bring them out. Your assertion concerning the large number of anti-war protestors that have come out on other occasions only reinforces it.
Were you a student of history, you would know that every war this nation has ever fought has had its share of war protestors. Yes, that even includes World War II. There were days of horribly bloody rioting in New York City in 1863 because New Yorkers didn't understand why they should have to fight to "free a bunch of damned niggers." It is only because war protestors like Nader and you have not gotten their way that those "niggers" are free and that people like you live in a country where war protesting is allowed. Finally, you obviously have no love for President Bush, but it doesn't seem to bother you in the least that your friend Ralph almost certainly tossed the election into his lap.
Why Does Nobody Give a Rodent's Rump what Ralph Nader Says
Subject: Thanks for the Nader Article
Now I am happy to see any articles about him at all. I very much disagree with you about Mr. Nader and what he is all about. I like him becuase [sic] he is a leader, who breeds other leaders, not followers. He energizes poeple [sic] to contribute, and not to follow. In this new world of inactivity, or lazyness [sic] it is refreshing to find someone who has that kind of effect on people [sic], especially young people [sic].
Dear Mrs. Hennesy:
Somehow I think my piece revealing Mr. Nader as either a clueless or dishonest has-been who no longer has the ability to rally flies around feces didn't exactly do his cause much good. That said, you're certainly right about the need for diversity in politicians, and I guess if it's true that there's no such thing as bad publicity then I did contribute to the cause.
More SARS Hate
One Wong Doesn't Make a Right
At this writing, SARS appears to have killed 49 people out of 1323 afflicted according to the World Health Organization, a death rate of less than four percent.
That's true, but 4% of four billion would still be a sizeable number, don't you think? [It turns out he thought the world's population was only four billion.]
[310 words omitted]
Do you know that the 1918 Spanish Influenza which you cited as so deadly was also an emerging infectious disease? The strain was a [sic] H1N1strain thought to have jumped species from swine.
[250 words omitted.]
Lastly, I invite you to come to Hong Kong, China or Singapore to help treat the SARS patients. Our doctors here are working overtime and there is a shortage of doctors and nurses available to treat SARS patients. Since you are not afraid of the disease, you should have no problems with coming over to assist and to give humanitarian aid.
I look forward to hearing of your arrival here in Asia and your contributions to fighting SARS.
Dear Mr. Wong:
Let's just deal with two aspects of your letter. First there's your incredible assumption that four billion people (two-thirds) of the world's population is going to contract SARS, making it by far the most virulent disease in the history of the world. (The first and worst wave of the Black Death claimed a fourth to a third of Europeans.) While you were assuming, why didn't you just assume that all 6.3 billion of us would get the disease?
Second, and just as bizarre, is your statement that the 1918-1919 flu pandemic was an "emerging infectious disease." You are clearly oblivious that ALL strains of flu come from pigs, from harshest to mildest. You are in desperate need of some education in medical history, besides other things.
I look forward to hearing of your arrival here in the U.S. where people can see for themselves that despite what the media (and you) would like us to think, all Asians have not succumbed to SARS.
Put another Shrimp-Brain on the Barbie, Mate
We are part of the growing voice of dissent who [sic] do not share your vision of the future and will not have your so-called good will thrust upon us. Thanks but no thanks mister, you can keep your sordid solutions and keep GM crops out of Australia.
Dear Fruits and Vegetables,
Thank goodness! Just when I was beginning to think Americans were the most arrogant people on earth, you two Aussies came along! It's interesting that you claim I misrepresented so many facts and used quotes out of context, yet you are incapable of providing a single example. Instead you try to impugn my motives. Unable to do even that, you simply imagine them. As it happens, I gave that piece to National Review Online for free. I figured the opportunity to expose one of the most evil women in all of Asia would be payment enough.
As it happens, too, you are part of a shrinking voice of dissent. You obviously feel that it's fine for tens of millions of Indians and others in the developing world to die for your whacked-out ideology, but they outnumber you by tens of millions and it's their land not yours. As to your country, how sad that Australians neglected to vote to make you dictators. So you will not be able to thrust your bankrupt morality upon them, either. And finally, guess who's coming to dinner? Biotech canola is scheduled to become Australia's first biotech crop in 2003. But my understanding is that Antarctica will probably remain biotech-free for some time in terms of crops, if only because no crops grow there. (Biotech rations have been eaten there for years by Americans.) Looks like you're going to be packing your woolies soon.
A Vendetta over Vandana
Just readin yor best effort at defenden a whale of a woman whose name you can't even spell! And why should I dream bout bein a lower-class agricultural laborer, low-class though you be. Yoh!
Subject: No Wonder
Thanks for publishing your "Hate Mail". Very entertaining.
I found your site by accident and don't know your work. After reading some mail, I wanted to find out a little about the person that could inspire such passion. I read your bio and saw "Hudson Institute."
No wonder people are pissed at you. You work for a disinformation machine and and [sic] noted plunderers' mouthpiece. People can't stand being lied to, explaining the anger.
Was the 20/20 story you folks supplied about organics and ecoli [sic] the same one John Stoessel [sic] apologized for on the air because of its BS "studies?"
Fascinating how those with differing views are liars and/or a radicals and somehow your ilk are not. Your bosses may hold the keys to power, but not to truth. And truth always prevail [sic].
Now, if patterns hold, it's your turn to respond by criticizing my writing style.
Three Mile Inn
Dear Three Mile Inn:
I'm not criticizing your writing style, just your thinking style and your use of hackneyed clichés like "the truth will always prevail" – even if you don't know how to write it.
First, I had nothing to do with the Stossel (note the spelling) story. Information to Stossel was supplied by somebody else who happens to work with Hudson. Moreover, the information he supplied was correct. The improper interpretation of test results was the fault of people hired by ABC. That's what you're blaming me for, yet you speak as if disinformation is something you're opposed to and the truth is on your side. I think you're a couple of miles short of three.
More SARS Hate
Amazed, Dazed and Confused
Are you the writer from the Hudson Institute that several weeks ago wrote a piece that indicated SARS was being "overblown" or that we were "over-reacting" as nations regarding its danger? I remember reading the article/op-ed and wondering with amazement how anyone could make these references when the resource information was hardly available. I had never heard of the Hudson Institute and I'm afraid that that article did nothing for your credibility. How sad.
Yes, I'm the writer who was the first to declare that what we were witnessing in SARS was worldwide mass hysteria – although I find I'm gaining new company every day. That other people did not use the resource information did not mean it was "not readily available." It was available, as attested by MY having used it. When I wrote that piece, 82 percent of all SARS cases were in China; today's it's 87 percent. The U.S. had no SARS deaths, nor did Europe. That's still the case. For all the talk about Asia being wiped out, between Japan and India there have been all of three cases reported. Meanwhile economies are being wracked, the airline industry is taking yet another beating as is the travel industry, and Toronto finds itself quarantined for having far fewer SARS cases over the last month than the number of flu cases it gets in a week. I'm afraid your letter did nothing for your credibility. How sad.
Good one! Ending your response by repeating my original comments to you is a great debating tactic...I used it in grammar school!
Michael, its [sic] so easy to make a headline by writing a contrarian article (by reading your bio, it appears as though that is ALL you do), but to compare what's happening with SARS to the flu is just plain ignorant, as stated above (by a real live doctor!). [He was a real live Ph.D.] The problem with America is that hacks like you get their faces and articles in front of the public and attempt to create a furor by being "politically incorrect". Get a real job and quit trying to be an expert in matters out of your league.
Was it in grammar school debate class that you also learned if you can't attack the argument, you attack the arguer (argument ad hominem)? As it happens, I got my B.A. in three years and my law degree in three years, even as I've spent 17 years writing about health and science with four published books and one on the way. What are YOUR credentials, being a member of the Libertarian Party?
And it's nice how rather than attempt to refute a single thing I say, you simply attach one of the same sensationalist news articles that I've been regularly refuting. Yet that article relies heavily on statements from a person whose credentials you wouldn't think twice about questioning if he didn't support your ridiculous position. He's identified as "Patrick Dixon, who has specialized in studying the AIDS epidemic, and is a futurist at the Center for Management Development at London Business School." Do you know a synonym for "futurist"? "Whacko," would work. These are people who tell us what the world will be like in 100 years when we have no idea what it will be like in ten.
Your futurist friend said that, quoting the article, "if current trends continued the disease could easily spread widely in Europe." Really? For the past couple of weeks, Ireland, Spain, Bulgaria, Romania, and Switzerland have had one case apiece. That wouldn't seem to indicate an especially contagious disease, now would it? The most cases in any European nation is currently seven. Zero Europeans have died of SARS, as have zero Americans out of 37.
The real problem with America is hate mailers with a B.S. in B.S. who mindlessly float with the tide, rather than even considering the possibility that the mass media might just be wrong on this issue even as it's been wrong so often on so many issues of major importance. Whether you like it or not, I'm the professional health writer while you've demonstrated yourself to be nothing more than a professional heckler.
Write something worthwhile and maybe you won't receive negative feedback (oh, I forgot "hecklers"). I have never felt the need to write to someone like you (professional BS'r) before, but these days your ilk is [sic] causing more harm than good, so I had to vent my frustration with this type of journalism...so a "professional heckler I am not". Good luck on the Fox network or continued, predictable contrarian writing.
You are so right! The only worthwhile journalists are those who write pieces that don't receive negative feedback. You know, like all that fluff in People magazine that is of, by, and for airheads and didn't matter a wit at the time it was written, much less years down the line. Sorry you don't like "this type of journalism" but it's the type that keeps readers informed of what they're not getting from the mainstream and plays a vital role in maintaining a free society. I understand that Iraq just lost your type of journalism, but it's still going strong 90 miles right off our coast in Cuba.
Agent Orange Hate
Being a Coward is Getting Easier All the Time
Obviously you never served in combat duty in Viet Nam. You have no idea of the suffering these brave honorable men go through, as well as their families. They are forgotten soldiers who become [sic] disabled from their own government greed and those who produce this poison. You are right their names will not go on the memorial wall, but people like you who make money off their suffering should erect a memorial with the names of all those who die from agent orange.
I would like you to spend time with my husband and watch him suffer and see my heart break....you are a COWARD.
I know this is going to come as a complete and total shock to you, but there are men suffering every day who never wore a uniform, never went to Vietnam, and were never exposed to agent orange. Whether or not agent orange is dangerous is utterly irrelevant to whether I served in combat duty; either it is or it isn't, and the science says it isn't. It isn't your heart that's breaking; the problem lies in your brain and your selfish refusal to believe that your husband is suffering from something that you can't blame on somebody else.
I'm the vet, along with thousands of others there is something wrong here,ass [sic] holes like you just push pens and read what other egg heads have written and believe all of it...to argue with you is a waste of my time so please don't answer back..and as far as being airborne big deal.I was a recon in the 101 st [sic] and 82nd, difference is I went to combat , difference is I never smoked, drank or did drugs. Something sucks here.Besides you and Dow and all the other companys that deal with this poison..you on the other hand make your living justifying using this stuff, you are definitely an argument for abortion..
You are definitely an argument for abortion . I pity the woman(?) who
brought you into this world. How can you live with yourself? You are an
arrogant pig and I hope you suffer with the worst form of cancer that
Morowhat? Yeah, you're a couple of good Christians all right. Slightly insane, but nothing that a bit of padding and a couple of jackets with wrap-around sleeves couldn't fix.
Subject: Solution to GW Syndrome
Please check out www.clearbodyclearmind.com and get the book and read it. As well, visit www.freedommag.org on their incredible coverage of GWS and the solutions that vets have found and are having success
Quack, quack, quack! Do you have any books with solutions to "brain fog" and alien abductions?Sincerely,
Vaccinations, the Spanish Flu, and GWS - A Conspiracy So Immense
[Insert your own sics.]
Dear Michael Fumento: You are missing or, like the "Government Opperatives" [sic], leaving out of the equation, the most significant factor: U.S. Military Vaccinations [sic] and the misadministration and disinformation regarding the truth. I was healthy going into the service and sick getting out, infact [sic] getting out due to failing health after receiving ten military vaccinations, including smallpox (or so the record says) all on the same day, Feb. 1987, Ft. Bliss, TX. I never deployed outside the U.S., and as published in the Journal of Epidemiology, Dr. Lea Steele's KANSAS STUDY, reveals a number of veterans, like myself, that got a cluster of signs and symptoms now commonly refered [sic] to as Gulf War Syndrome. My initial diagnosis of fibromyalgia was Oct. 1989 by a non-VA doctor.
It took VA medical doctors SIX YEARS to agree. Now, despite VA & civilian medical doctors admit and report that my disabilities "Did seem to develop while I was in the military service" – Dr. Jay Purdy, PhD for the Iowa City VA Comp & Pen exam of Feb. 13, 2001 and "These conditions are at least as likely as not to be service connected" – Dr. Paul Wang M.D. of Coal Valley, IL report Jan. 15, 2002, I am still waiting for the VA to do the right thing and correct my rating to reflect the conditions of record. To the credit of the VA I was given some timely appeals process, however, I have not been gainfully employed in over 13 years since leaving the military. My children and wife and family suffer the consequences that I do not wish to have to go on right now. You should really contact the National Vaccine Information center and ask for their recent e-mail release on the Spanish Flu actually being caused by the vaccine that was killing our troops. There is nothing new under the sun, here. 1-800-909-shot.
Dear Dr. Ken:
There are just a few tiny discrepancies in your story. Your alleged diagnosis of fibromyalgia was two years before the Gulf War began. Regarding the Spanish Flu, your information is from a crackpot organization that is trying desperately to keep parents from vaccinating their children. To the extent they succeed, there will be countless deaths from diphtheria, measles, whooping cough and other horrible diseases now completely under control. The assertion that the 1918-19 pandemic was caused by vaccinations is bizarre. Exhumations of corpses buried in frozen ground, along with gene-typing, have allowed us to identify the exact strain of flu virus. Moreover, according to the World Health Organization, that disease is thought to have infected half the world's population at a time when even most Americans got few vaccinations and the vast majority of the world's population received none whatsoever.
But other than that . . .
The Kansas Study was published in the J. of Rheumatology and has reported that veterans, like myself, who did not deploy outside the U.S., got these "mysterious" illnesses AND some of them got this illness BEFORE the war began. Check out your flimsy resources that claim a veteran had to actually be in the Gulf arena [Arena? With gladiators?] to get these conditions while offering NO proof, ZERO evidence 14 years later to support that lie. Do your homework and use your eyes and ears twice as much as your mouth (maybe that's what their for?). Do you know of ANY proof that vaccines are safe or effectice? No ? I didn't think so. Yet you fly off the handle with calling NVIC a crackpot org. Have you seen the Gulf War video available at some libraries ? Have you seen Thanks to a Greatful Nation ? How do you account for the vast many vets that have been awarded VA Comp for the same conditions BEFORE the Gulf War began ie Brian Hoag in Hoag v. Brown, COVA # 90-1564 ? You may want to take a look at S.R. 103-900 from May 25,1994 (Reigle reports). If you just don't want to believe that veterans are guinea pigs and the VA is not overly adversarial to veterans then you never read the American Legion magazine, DAV magazine or any of the numerous other publications that are replete with cries of injustice etc. If you have a hard time admitting that perhaps you need to step back and reassess your value system then this is not for you. And who asked you to call us veterans liars anyway ? You are the type that needs to pay someone to look at your ugly mug in the morning. How long will your money go ?
Your claim that lots of people have gotten so-called GWS who had nothing to do with the Gulf War is what I've been saying all along. Thanks for supporting my case. There are some people who did serve in the Gulf, got sick, and blame it on GWS because everybody tells them that any illness any Gulf vet ever gets must be GWS. Then there are the out-and-out fakers and crackpots such as yourself. Don't let one of those nasty doctors stick one of those big, bad needles in your precious arm little boy!
More SARS Hate
A Big, Long Non-Sequitir [sic]
+ You say "Far more Americans die of influenza each year (about 36,000) than have yet been killed by SARS globally" [That was an understatement on my part, I meant to say "die of influenza each week."]
First of all, you make a total non sequitir [sic] by comparing the absolute number of deaths due to flu and other diseases to the number of deaths from SARS. The whole point of the fear is that the death *rate* from SARS is much higher than that from other more common and curable diseases, somewhere between 4 and ten percent, perhaps much higher for older people. That is orders of magnitude higher than for flu or tuberculosis or standard pneumonia that is treatable with antibiotics. People are worried that because SARS appears highly contagious, that it could spread rapidly until it is impossible to contain effectively, and if that happens, then the absolute number of deaths would be much higher than for the other diseases such as the common [sic] flu or Tuberculosis [sic].
+You say "A bit of fear can be useful in controlling an epidemic. But that applies to rational fear, not hysteria. Did people's refusal to sit near AIDS patients slow that epidemic? Will refusing to sit next to a Canadian of Asian descent slow the spread of SARS?"
AIDS is not easily transmitted. SARS, on the other hand, seems to be very easy to transmit. Virtually every health care worker in the Beijing or Toronto hospitals who saw the patients, even for a short time, seems to have been infected, something like 15 hospital workers from a single patient. Wearing a mask and gown seems to help, but you have to admit that it looks very easy to catch. Sitting next to an infected person could well give you the disease. So it is not an irrational fear.
+ You heavily imply [I thought it was "strongly".] that the lack of deaths in the U.S. is due to our superior health care systems as compared to Canada. However, the U.S. reports SARS cases differently, classifying only suspected cases, so there may be far fewer cases here than the 101 you quote.
+ You say "A foreign tourist was held in involuntary quarantine in New York City for virtually his ten-day vacation because he had a fever and ubiquitous "flu-like symptoms," while U.C. Berkeley has barred summer session students from China and other regions of Asia with relatively high numbers of SARS cases. Would they do so for the far-more-contagious and equally lethal flu?"
The flu is not equally lethal. It has a death rate several orders of magnitude lower than SARS. Do you not understand this, or are you mixing up the death rate from the disease and the number of people infected on purpose?
The growth rate of SARS cases is still an exponential. Until it stops being one, then I don't think we can take this too seriously.
Dear Mr. Minsky,
My article of only about 1,200 words contained about 20 sets of statistics relating to SARS itself. That really doesn't leave much room for rhetoric.
Also, don't try to impress people with Latin terminology unless you can spell it. You mean "non sequitur," but your assertion about putting the emphasis on death rates is both statistically and logically bankrupt. What if there were a disease that was almost – but not quite – impossible to transmit but it had a 100 percent mortality rate? Would that make it more important than a disease more readily transmissible than a cold but with five percent mortality? Overall mortality is overall mortality, regardless of underlying factors.
That's where your false statistics come in. As I noted, and as you ignored, in Europe and the U.S. there have been NO deaths among about 100 cases. Higher mortality in other areas is essentially a reflection of poorer health care. When you mention SARS being "highly contagious" and "very easy to transmit" you completely ignore the comparison with the contagiousness of flu. If it doesn't mean anything to you that SARS has caused about 7,000 cases in about the same time period that flu causes as many as half a million, then you're as hopeless as you seem. You're also making up numbers when you say flu "has a death rate several orders of magnitude lower than SARS." In the U.S. and Europe, flu has literally an infinitely higher death rate.
Your statement about the U.S. classification system is wrong. Early on, the CDC lumped suspected and known cases together because there was no test. When a test became available, the number of American cases plummeted because all that remained were verified ones.
So you don't think "refusing to sit next to a Canadian of Asian descent" is "an irrational fear." That speaks volumes.
Finally, you are absolutely wrong again when you say "the growth rates of SARS cases is still an [sic] exponential." Earlier in the epidemic, say April 1-2, the growth in one day was 3.5 percent. From May 5-6 (the latest data as I write this) it was 2.7 percent. As I noted in my piece, "Of the 153 new cases reported May 6, only six were outside China." Is that your definition of exponential – six new cases in about 190 countries? Or how about six new cases in a population of five billion people?
In any event, thank you for a truly marvelous demonstration of an ability to write at great length while saying absolutely nothing of merit or truth.