Louisiana health officials deserve a Darwin Award for catastrophic stupidity

October 31, 2014

Friday, October 31, 2014

Good morning:

I nominate Louisiana health officials for a Darwin Award. In what has to be one of the most insanely stupid, anti-science and fear driven decisions ever made, Louisiana health officials have decided to sabotage the world’s best hope for the discovery of a cure for Ebola and other hemorrhagic and tropical diseases as well as the development and implementation of practical and effective policies for dealing with outbreaks of those diseases.

Yes, I kid you not. The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene is scheduled to have its annual conference at the Sheraton New Orleans this weekend, but the researchers who have spent time in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone studying the outbreak recently will not be attending the conference because, if they do, the Louisiana health officials are going to quarantine them in their rooms for 21 days.

NPR reports,

Dr. Piero Olliaro had big plans for the conference.

“This is the place to be,” says Olliaro, a researcher at Oxford University who specializes in setting up clinical trials to test drugs in the developing world. “It’s once a year. This is where you get to meet all the others.”

Olliaro was going to present several papers on his recent work involving treatments for malaria and river blindness. But two weeks ago he was in Guinea for the World Health Organization scouting a site to test an experimental Ebola medication.

Yesterday Olliaro got a letter from the Louisiana health department saying that anyone who’d been in Sierra Leone, Liberia or Guinea in the past 21 days would be quarantined.

The letter goes on to say, “We see no utility in you traveling to New Orleans simply to be confined to your room.”

Fear is the mind killer.

We will never know, but the inspiration for a cure to Ebola that might have come from the cross-fertilization of ideas that occurs at meetings like this one will not happen for another year.

Meanwhile, the catastrophic suffering and loss of life will continue to increase exponentially.

I nominate Oscar Pistorius for a Darwin Award

July 15, 2014

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Good morning:

What the hell was he thinking?

Regardless of who started it, Oscar Pistorius exhibited appalling judgment by getting into a fight in a bar while his legal case is still pending. BTW, this was not a waterfront bar in a pirate infested seaport. It was not just another upscale bar. It was the VIP Room of an upscale bar.

He did this while Judge Masipa is trying to decide whether to give him a pass for shooting Reeva Steenkamp to death by firing four times through the closed door to the toilet cubicle in his bathroom because, despite his remarkable athletic success overcoming his physical disability, he is really an anxious and vulnerable person who is so fearful and obsessed about his safety that he understandably jumped to the erroneous conclusion that she was a dangerous intruder when he heard sounds in the bathroom.

Displaying an absence of anxiety and vulnerability by going to a bar and getting into a confrontation with another patron is not what his lawyers would have recommended. The good news for them is they can now credibly claim that, but for his boorish behavior, they probably would have won the trial.

Breathtakingly stupid behavior that deserves a Darwin nomination.

Do you agree or disagree?

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