The Tao of Politics

One of my main concerns is: how can I make a difference? There are thousands of political blogs out there. It’s easy to get lost in that ocean. So I may blog about politics on occasion, or I may blog about health issues, depending on where my interests lead me, and where I feel I can contribute something of significance.

Monday, January 02, 2006

What a difference a headline makes
Dr. Julie Gerberding, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday and spoke about bird flu. Mike Leavitt, Secretary of Health and Human Services, appeared on CNN’s “Late Edition” and also spoke about bird flu. Of course the news media covered both of these appearances. But it is possible to arrive at entirely different impressions about our nation’s preparedness to deal with bird flu, depending particularly on which headlines you read or believe. Here, for example, are the headlines from several articles about basically the same story:

US says it’s making progress on bird flu

Official: US making progress, but still not ready for bird flu.

Leavitt: US likely to deal with strain of bird flu

US health officials warn America must prepare for bird flu pandemic

CDC Director says US not ready for bird flu pandemic

CDC: US not ready for bird flu: progress being made, but vaccine supplies inadequate

Top disease official says US not ready for possible bird flu pandemic

Headlines can be treacherous. They do not always accurately reflect the substance of the article they represent. The first headline here, for example, doesn't convey the same impression as the last one does. You really have to be careful not to rely too heavily on headlines (the president could probably benefit from this advice) and really read the entire article in order to arrive at a fair understanding of the issues being discussed therein.

Which one is it, or is it both?
While I’m on bird flu, this article is about the Turkish boy who died while being tested for H5N1. The media are reporting this morning that the boy died from pneumonia, not bird flu. But the interesting thing about the previous article for me is that it says, “Turkey faces a persistent threat as it lies on a major migratory flight path.” Now I know that some people theorize that bird flu is spread by migrating birds. I wrote a major article about this just a couple of days ago. But there are also people who theorize that the bird and poultry trade, legal and illegal, is responsible for the spread of H5N1. So which one is it? Or is it both? A lot of people are saying that migrating birds are not the culprits. Here is just one article for example. I know I keep talking about this, but it is an important question and needs to be answered so that we can deal with a potential pandemic. It is not a trivial matter.

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Also check out my other books: The Tao of Politics, The Tao of Red States and Blue States, The Tao of Love


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