Everyone Stay Cool



A delayed flight from the USA-Dominican Republic yesterday after a man joked, “I have Ebola! You are all screwed’.

Never mind the ebola-ocks.


Raymond Foley writes:

Ebola is just one more statistically insignificant nothing for us all to be afraid of

Like terrorism, child abduction, the millennium bug and SARS (remember that?) before it Ebola has now taken its place as the next big thing to be afraid of.

And we are afraid. Ebola dominates the headlines. Mammies and daddies across the country are worried that their children (backpacking in Thailand) are in mortal danger of infection. Recently an extremely well educated couple I know cancelled a trip to East Africa – thousands of miles from the outbreak on the basis that it was simply too dangerous to go. And that’s just the start of it – I even heard of school in Ireland postponing parent teacher meetings – just in case like.

It’s insane and it needs to stop.

The current outbreak began in December 2013 in Guinea. Since then it has spread to a number of neighbouring West African countries. As of now four thousand unfortunate people have died from the disease. Apologies if you knew this already and feel patronised but last week over a pint a practising GP told me death toll had actually hit 1.5 million. It has not.

Four thousand is a lot of people but let’s put that figure in context. In the same ten month period figures published by the world health organisation suggest around 35 million people worldwide will have died from heart disease, pulmonary obstructions, diabetes and stroke (all of which are to a greater or lesser extent attributable to stress, diet, and sedentary lifestyle)

So statistically Ebola is not killing many people and it’s unlikely to do so. Especially not here in the western world where more effective healthcare systems would stymie its already limited natural capacity to spread.


And yet eleven o’clock break what are we all talking about? Ebola. Ebola being on its way to Europe. Ebola already being here and some lad in Donegal who definitely has it but the HSE won’t tell us. We’re even talking about closing airports to keep Ebola infected people out.

And it’s not just ebola, it’s wolves, it’s rapists, it’s perverts and jihadis (not together) to name but a few.

Why is it that we allow our lives and in turn the societies we build be moulded by these virtually impudent threats. Why is it so much easier to be afraid of ISIS or Al Queada than to be afraid of what’s in our lunchbox?. Why is it much easier to be afraid of some daft influenza strain than the impact our energy consumption is having on the Earth’s climate and why is it so much easier to be afraid of a weird man in a white van than our kids eating crap, getting fat and playing Xbox?

Maybe it’s because lazy writers and journalists find it simpler to spin a yarn about an exotic threat than do the research and pitch the case for the more banal broadsides like sedentary lifestyles, sugar in our diet , CO2 emissions, and nicotine addiction. Maybe its reflection on an education system that discourages critical examination of this same commoditised news cycle.

Whatever the reasons we choose to be afraid of these things we find ourselves living in a society gripped by an illegitimate state of fear.

No doubt there some already scheming to sidestep my point entirely and attack my lack of humanity. Of course death, abductions and illness are real and are sad. But so is a human race getting fatter, sicker and more self destructive by the day.


Screengrab via Telegraph

Sponsored Link

97 thoughts on “Everyone Stay Cool

  1. Chuckenstein

    What about the child in England who was banned from attending his school because he came from west Africa? Unbelievable!

      1. SOMK

        Rendom aside there’s more genetic variation between West Africans (generally produce the best sprinters) and East Africans (generally produce the best long-distance runners), than there is between whites and black people.

  2. Bejayziz

    Don’t forget the killer spiders, the false widow has already decimated 20% of the population, usually fear mongering to keep the population in check

      1. Rob

        Coming from a household of pedants, I don’t think it would upset anyone. I read it and thought to myself “2%? that’s not so bad”, smugly, knowing that’s not what he meant.

        There’s no enormity in his enormous mistake.

      2. Mé Féin

        Historically, decimated means the Romans or someone came along and took one-tenth of your food or something.

        1. ReproBertie

          It was a punishment handed out to a Legion. The Legion was lined up and every 10th legionnaire was taken out and then beaten to death by his comrades.

  3. Clampers Outside!

    It’s like when people thought of Ireland before the peace process…. many foreigners thought the whole country was a war zone because of the sectarian scum.

    People need to just step back a bit some times.

  4. Jess

    The only thing I’m afraid of is spiders and the poor.

    Oh and snipers. Because if you’re not afraid of snipers, you’re and idiot.

    1. John E. Bravo

      Whether intentional or not “you’re and idiot” is exactly how I want to see everyone spell this declaration from now on.

      1. CousinJack

        Let s make a film about one who killed loadsa people, because he’s american that will be really cool and then sniping will be cool

    2. Lorcan Nagle

      You have nothing to fear but fear itself.

      And Carnies. Circus folk. Smells like cabbage, tiny hands

    3. Lorcan Nagle

      You have nothing to fear but fear itself.

      And Carnies. Circus folk. Smells like cabbage, tiny hands

  5. bisted

    ….and closer to home…have the Shinners made any comment on flouridation since one of their councillors proposed and had adopted a motion to Dublin CC to remove flouride from water supply. Is this Sinn Fein policy?

    1. Mani

      I think it’s now time to take the title of ‘The Greatest Generation’ away from those who lived during WW2 and the Great Depression.

  6. Mr. T.

    There’s little broad education anymore, just narrow slots into which people fit but unable to see the bigger picture. That’s why you have ‘educated’ people saying really stupid things.

    Most people are very well trained at something. But very few are well educated.

    1. Sidewinder

      Yeah it’s mad how common it still is and no-one really cares. It’s still responsible for a huge percentage of flu-related hospital admissions. 70% in 2011 I think.

  7. ReproBertie

    Hey, hey, hey hold on now, the millennium bug was real. For example I remember seeing many a receipt from shops around Ireland in 2000 where the receipt was dated 1900. A lot of work went in to preventing it having an impact. Sure there were scare stories about planes dropping out of the sky and all that nonsense but there was a threat to many IT systems and that threat was, for the most part, dealt with and, as a result of that work the bug is a punchline.

    “You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall.”

    1. Major Thrill

      Yup, a huge amount of work went into testing for and dealing with the millennium bug to make sure it wouldn’t cause the predicted disasters. I was involved in testing a few applications for compliance (mainly microsoft) and quite a bit of commonly used software just straight up stopped working once the clock ticked over.
      Just because something didn’t happen doesn’t mean it wouldn’t have happened without people taking the threat very seriously, just as they are doing with the containment and treatment of Ebola.

      Now, as much as I agree with the sentiment that the current panic is pointless the standard comparisons I’ve seen don’t exactly hold up. Yes, Malaria kills a lot of people but hordes of mosquitoes infected with malaria doesn’t climb on a plane to Dublin airport. Heart disease is preventable by taking precautions for yourself – exercising a bit, eating healthy and so on. The type of threat presented by Ebola (or the version of ebola presented in the media to be more precise – the “Congratulations, the wrong person coughed in your face on the bus, you have a 60% chance of death” Fox news strain) simply doesn’t exist here and it is hard to maintain any kind of confidence that a patient presenting with symptoms at an A&E in Ireland wouldn’t be left sitting in a crowded area for hours (and yes, I know that isn’t going to cause an outbreak).

      So, less of the sneering at people for believing what they hear and more actual information on why and how it spreads if you’re going to be a clever prick yelling at people from the soapbox there Raymond.

      1. Major Thrill

        Which is not to say I think we need to be afraid of an outbreak here, the odds are incredibly low, I’m just not a fan of people berating others for an entirely natural reaction.

        1. ahyeah

          I was surprised to see someone had commented on your comment – thought “Wow, someone actually read all the way through that sh!te”. Then I saw that you commented on your own comment. Makes more sense.

          1. Major Thrill

            I hope you appreciate the irony in everything you just posted. You don’t often see an example this precise.

  8. Spaghetti Hoop

    I find that just a selfish muse from a soap box.
    The Ebola outbreak IS a real concern; the three countries affected can’t cope with treating or containing the epidemic and are effectively cut off from any external humanitarian aid because of the risk to aid workers and potential carriage of the virus outside Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Current death toll there is now 7,000.

    So you’re undecided on where Ebola should sit in the list of ‘world-causes-we-should-be-concerned-about’? The WHO have a responsibility to issue health measures and the media have a responsibility to report them. How you read and react to that is up to you. There will always be hysterics but I the reports I’ve read and listened to don’t appear scare-mongering or hysterical at all.

    1. ahyeah

      Not sure though that’s the point he’s making – that Ebola is nothing to be concerned about. Yes, it’s a massive concern for the affected countries (and we should be doing whatever we can to help them) – but it’s not an immediate, direct threat to us in Ireland, UK or wherever.

    2. fmong

      …so you’re saying we should be scared of Ebola? Jesus, will someone just please tell me what exactly I’m scared of? Why do I have this feeling of dread that sits day in, day out, in the pit of my ulcer pocked stomach.. Tell me what disease? what terrorist group? what shadowy government agency… tell me… just tell me something so I don’t have to self examine my conscious and realise that deep down all I’m really scared of is dying cold, broke and alone with no to remember me…

      *burst into tears*

    3. Don Pidgeoni

      You haven’t been reading the Mail stories about Ebola then have you? And loads of people read that rubbish – that where they get their ‘reports’ – not scientific or nuanced or anything. Just a concrete block of “EBOLA IS HERE AND YOU WILL ALL BE DEAD AND HOUSE PRICES WILL PLUMMET” rammed in your face every morning

        1. Don Pidgeoni

          Give it 6 months, wait for the plague to pass through and bam! free 5 bed mansion in Kensington.

  9. Dhaughton99

    But remember that telco worker who died in Donegal and was allowed to mix with his family and friends even though he was ill and only back from Liberia. How many people could be arriving from Africa to this country every day? Can’t be many and can’t be hard to question if they were in contact with people who might have had Ebola.

    No use panicking later on.

    1. swoon

      Can’t be hard to ask if they were in contact with somebody who might have ebola.

      “Have you been in contact with somebody who might have ebola?”

      “I don’t know,maybe,I dont think so,probably not.How would I know?”

      What next genius?

    2. Sidewinder

      Just being in contact with them isn’t enough. You need to make contact with blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people through either a mucus membrane (ie get in your mouth, eyes or undercarriage) or broken skin.

      Their fluids have to get into your bloodstream, inhaling it isn’t enough. Part of the reason it’s spreading so fast in Africa is because of burial traditions and shedloads of people are handling the bodies of people who have succumbed to ebola (which ends with a great availability of infected fluids) and then not following basic infection control procedures that we’d have here like handwashing, use of anti-microbial agents, as well as disposal of gloves and gowns and other medical waste.

      It’s not that ebola spreads super easy, it’s that cultural practices nicely complement the way it spreads. Also misinformation, mistrust of authorities and fear are a great help. So basically what you’ve just said is the exact opposite of helpful in the unlikely even that ebola does come here.

      1. ahyeah

        “You need to make contact with blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people through either a mucus membrane (ie get in your mouth, eyes or undercarriage) or broken skin.”

        That’s Mani done for.

    3. Don Pidgeoni

      No, you’re right. Let’s panic now and ignore all the facts. Including that he didn’t have it, and that the Brit in Macedonia probably doesn’t have it, and that nurse in Oz and the deputy sheriff and ……

  10. ahyeah

    Yeah… excellent little piece. Pity the mainstream media don’t go for this angle. I suppose though a story about paedophiles climbing through your child’s bedroom window gets more clicks, viewers etc.

  11. Sidewinder

    Tbf the fact that obesity, heart disease, stroke etc kill more people worldwide than ebola has during this outbreak is a fairly meaningless comparison when they are so completely different. I know we should be more concerned about diseases that actually affect us which ebola (from an objective clinical standpoint) does not but it’s a silly comparison imo. One isn’t more dangerous than the other, they’re just different.

    But yes everyone calm down about ebola. It’s transmitted through bodily fluids so unless you’re kissing, shagging or washing someone who has ebola you’re probably fine. You’re not going to get it by being on a plane with some guy who was in Sierra Leone one time for his holidays.

  12. kurtz

    I tend to agree with you, media hype is blowing the threat of Ebola to the rest of the would out of proportion.

    However it should be a very serious cause for concern that it can’t be controlled in West Africa. There’s the very real threat of this turning into a complete breakdown of society in the three effected nations. Coupled with the fact that Ebola hasn’t burned itself out and is continuing to infect shows that the virus is adapting. Health organisations across the world are demanding action, and they need to be listened to and acted upon. The current predictions are forseeing as many as 2 million deaths by 2015 if it’s not halted.

    And panic about SARS all of those years ago was not unwarranted. The world escaped a catastrophic pandemic. Make no mistake, a SARS outbreak would be MUCH worse than Ebola.

    1. offMooof

      Nigeria is going to be hell on earth when it hits the big cities, just really terrible 80% don’t have access to healthcare stuff. Is it that people don’t want to be made feel guilty that the media caters for you to feel afraid for yourself but not some kind of moral outrage that it has to just run its course and burn out in Africa. Compassion for our fellow human being regardless of the status of our person safety is something we should start encouraging again.

  13. Aido

    The psychology of fear is weird, thanks to our evolutionary biology. We are wired to respond to immediate and obvious threats (the ‘flight or fight response’) but long game threats don’t have a visceral response that promotes resolution techniques. Thus we panic at the thought of catching Ebola but never quite get around to setting up a pension plan. Fear is a short-term solution to a short-term problem.

    Fear leads people to act in predicatable ways. Fear makes people compliant to authority (appeal to a higher power to protect us) and fear makes people spend money (I can’t take it with me when I go). The mainstream media are obsessed with lurching from crisis to self-processed crisis because it creates fear, which makes money for their stockholders. And the media know enough about the psychology of fear to make news which scares us in a specific way.

    1. SOMK

      Yup, but it’s somewhat understandable, for most of our evolution it’d make sense to eat the food in front of you rather than store or cook it, humans are very motivated by shame and stigma and it’s a very effective form of control, for example to oft repeated notion that good people pay their debts, which is broadly true but assumes an equal relationship between someone who has money/resources and someone who hasn’t, when that patently isn’t the case, it’s the master’s language as David Graeber would put it.

  14. Major Thrill

    “why is it so much easier to be afraid of a weird man in a white van than our kids eating crap, getting fat and playing Xbox?”

    Because, what my kids eat and how much exercise they get is something I can have control over and influence and take care of but the man in the van is outside my control. The man in the van isn’t going to make my kids chunky and asthmatic he’s going to destroy their innocence or take their life and there’s nothing I can do about it.

    1. Don Pidgeoni

      Still, your kids chances of dying of some obesity related disease are probably higher than their chances of being kidnapped by man in van. Which is what Raymond is getting at.

      1. Major Thrill

        Oh I get that, I’m just trying to describe my own ranking system for existential dreads. For what it is worth, some form of vengeful ghost bride under my bed waiting to grab me with her talons ranks higher than Ebola due to the 100% chance of death in the unlikely event of this occurring.

  15. Testicals

    Can’t wait for joe duffy today. I’ll be scared of everything then. I hope he talks about religious relics. My favourite!!

  16. munkifisht

    Considering the best thing to do for people if infected with Ebola at the moment is to keep them well hydrated, I wonder if people will be happy to pay the water charges if this thing takes off like Friends.

  17. Alfred E. Neumann

    “Everybody’s panicking! It’s crazy! This doctor I don’t name thinks millions are dead! A couple I made up cancelled their holiday! If this hysteria grows exponentially, and my complete lack of evidence assures me it must, will ANY of us be safe?”

  18. Lazlo Panaflex

    I now smoke 80 fags a day as fret about ebola. Outside of that I keep guns unlocked within reach of my kids, drive without a seat beat and wear a plastic bag over my head while I sleep

Comments are closed.

Sponsored Link