Thursday, April 30, 2009

I talked on Sunday about not believing the media about the 'swine flu' epidemic because they were wrong about 'avian flu'. Ben Goldacre says that's wrong but understandable.

All people have done is raise the possibility of things really kicking off, and they are right to do so, but we don't have brilliantly accurate information... Someone has said 120 million could die. Well I suppose they could: I'm sure it was done on the back of an envelope, by guessing how many would be infected, and what proportion would die, but I don't think anyone's pretending otherwise... By Tuesday, pundit-seekers from the media were suddenly contacting me, a massive nobody, to say that swine flu is all nonsense and hype... I assumed they were adhering, robotically, to the "balance" template... [he said] "Yeah, but you know, it could be like Sars and bird flu, they didn't materialise, they were hype." Simon Jenkins suggested the same thing. It's not true, I said. They were risks, risks that didn't materialise, but they were still risks. That's what a risk is. I've never been hit by a car, but it's not idiotic to think about it. Simon Jenkins won't be right if nobody dies, he'll be lucky, like the rest of us.

New Scientist have an expert analysis which seems hopeful at the moment but also reminds us that there just hasn't been sufficient time for detailed analysing to be done yet.

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