BOOOOM!

The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple just destroys Bill O’Reilly over his now discredited Ebola paranoia… (via J$)

Turns out that O’Reilly had it precisely wrong. The United States is now Ebola-free and, just as medical experts have said throughout, the pivotal consideration in keeping it that way is providing aid to the countries where the virus resides. Just how important is free travel to the aid effort? Daniel Epstein, a Washington-based spokesman for the World Health Organization, told the Erik Wemple Blog earlier this month that the organization had ferried 600 people in and out of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea since the virus broke out in March (some of those folks have made more than one trip). When asked how WHO had reacted to O’Reilly’s calls for a travel ban, Epstein said, “We never tried to get on his show or tried to rebut his statements but we did issue statements about our position about international travel and Ebola.”

Such statements and other appeals to simple logic didn’t work with O’Reilly, who thrust upon his viewers an ugly dark-ages isolationism. Which would have been fine, if only he’d been right. O’Reilly said in an August 2013 program: “When you make a mistake, admit it.” Surely he’ll do just that on Ebola.

7 Responses to “BOOOOM!”

  1. Bill O’Reilly will frequently admit errors of fact, even when the error clearly came down to his call. Errors of judgment, not so much. I’ll be surprised if he revisits this.

  2. His was also an error of detailed fact. O’Reilly has proven himself quite good at researching such things so it would not take him long to learn why the experts are so adamant about quickly knocking down the spread of Ebola in those parts of Africa where it now flourishes.

    Every time the virus passes from one host to another there is a minute change in its RNA sequence and this becomes a signature that can be tracked. If a sample from a recently infected person is compared to one from an outbreak a decade ago, and if they’re of the same lineage, the number of infected hosts between them can be counted. These can be mutations. In between outbreaks very few such changes have been observed.

    While not impossible, this virus is not going to mutate into an airborne one – it’s about as likely as Chihuahuas suddenly becoming dogs that can fly. Quite possible, however, is that a mutation can make the disease becomes fully contagious long before any outward symptoms appear.

  3. bucephelus Says:

    So Canada, Australia, Britain, France, etc all imposed a travel ban to Ebola countries…but they are all wrong and some dude named Daniel Epstein is right?

  4. “So Canada, Australia, Britain, France, etc all imposed a travel ban to Ebola countries…but they are all wrong and some dude named Daniel Epstein is right?”

    ^^Exactly. Nice to see the correct answer put so succinctly. BTW, the reason your correct is that Canada, Australia, Britain and France were making decisions based on politics while Mr. Epstein’s comments were based on science.

  5. ^ More often than you seem to think, conclusions based upon science turn out to be very wrong. We learn far more from the things we get wrong than we do from what we get right, so it isn’t the “science” that’s wrong; it’s the premature conclusions.

    ^^ The travel restrictions imposed by the countries you list are not absolute and also not really pertinent to what Mr. O’Reilly advocated.

    – Limiting travel from an out-of-control virus hot zone is not a bad idea.
    – Restricting the travel of qualified personnel to and from that hot zone, or preventing the transport of infected patients to a more capable facility here in the US is most definitely a bad plan.

  6. “More often than you seem to think, conclusions based upon science turn out to be very wrong.”

    ^^Not when compared to decisions based on political expedience. All the countries named have deeply unpopular governments that were trying to gain political points by placating a fearful public; mostly against the explicate advice of their own medical experts.

    “The travel restrictions imposed by the countries you list are not absolute”

    ^^Doesn’t change my point that decisions were politically, and not scientifically, based.

    “also not really pertinent to what Mr. O’Reilly advocated.”

    ^^My comment said nothing about Billo. He was just acting like an idiot and got caught out by Wemple.

    “Limiting travel from an out-of-control virus hot zone is not a bad idea.”

    ^^Yes, in certain limited cases. In this case the experts almost all agree. Think the climate change controversy. Most of those opposed have an personal or political agenda or are employed by those with political agendas.

    ^^Restricting the travel of qualified personnel to and from that hot zone, or preventing the transport of infected patients to a more capable facility here in the US is most definitely a bad plan.”

    ^^Totally agree.

  7. Doesn’t change my point that decisions were politically, and not scientifically, based.

    That a decision is politically based does not, by itself, make it a bad one. Elected officials serve the people, not just scientists.

    Doesn’t change my point that decisions were politically, and not scientifically, based. There may be economic science behind the decisions in those countries. The medical infrastructures of Canada, France, and UK are not nearly as well-equipped to handle potentially large outbreaks.

    Most of those opposed have an (sic) personal or political agenda .. Most of those in favour in the climate change controversy also have personal and/or political agendas in play. Not a sound analogy, but I get your point.

    My comment said nothing about Billo.

    The topic is about Bill O’Reilly, and that part of my previous comment indicated it was directed at bucephelus.

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