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(not so) KILLER FUNGUS! and Bad Reporting.

  1. Apr 22, 2010 #1
    Here is an example of news meant to terrify...

    http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/04/22/killer.fungus.pacific.northwest/index.html

    I love the "small print" caveat that in fact, most people shouldn't be concerned, but um... I'm guessing that the "KILLER FUNUGS" title is likely going to go a long way towards scaring people before they get there.

    Truly, this is just absurd.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 22, 2010 #2

    Evo

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    Yeah, that's pretty bad.
     
  4. Apr 22, 2010 #3
    CNN.com has really started tanking. I've read a few really stupid and non-news stories over the past month.
     
  5. Apr 23, 2010 #4
    @Evo + Greg: I know... I'm not sure what to make of it... is this willful, or the product of some transition in management? Really, this article is genuinely irresponsible.
     
  6. Apr 23, 2010 #5

    Hepth

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    "Experts stress that even people near the epicenter of the outbreak should not be unduly concerned." While news agencies stress that even people on the other side of the nation should worry about this genetically mutated highly virulent tropical KILLER FUNGUS!

    But it's in good hands (a grad student :) ) and the "killer" attribute is a statistically sound description as about 25% of all 18 case studies were fatal. (I assume that means 4 people)...
     
  7. Apr 23, 2010 #6
    Yeah... to quote: "We is dumb... dumb as hell." (News Motto of the 21st Century) :biggrin:
     
  8. Apr 23, 2010 #7

    rhody

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    What makes this troubling, at least to me is that other news organizations parrot and regurgitate it as well, example: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/fatal-fungus-sparks-fear-worry/story?id=10438475" [Broken], although they put a less urgent spin on the story.

    I long ago stopped listening/reading MSNBC for serious balanced and responsible news, and to a large extent CNN as well.

    While making this post at 8:50 am, ABC was reporting this story 13 minutes ago, so fierce competition for exposure is part of the motivation as well.

    Rhody... :uhh:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  9. Apr 23, 2010 #8
    Less urgent, but now people will be guinely confused to an even greater degree. What really cooks my bacon is that this reflects on the scientific community, even if it's the poor reporting that is the real issue. :grumpy:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  10. Apr 23, 2010 #9

    Hepth

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    Sometimes though, I have to blame the public as well. If you're actually concerned enough by the title to read the article, you should read the ENTIRE article, and thus get to the part where it says its actually not a big deal. The problem lies in people who read the first paragraph, then cancel their tickets to Portland because they're afraid of catching it at a restaurant and bringing it back to their hometown/etc.
    While the press shares the blame for a lack of responsible reporting, the fraction of the public that is misled by these articles also share the blame for habitually skimming the news and making strong assumptions based on little or no fact and thus refusing to think for themselves.

    We can't treat the general population as children, regardless of their behavior.
     
  11. Apr 26, 2010 #10

    rhody

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    Why does this story not die ? Can someone explain a purely technological reason for it ?

    http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/04/22/killer.fungus.pacific.northwest/" [Broken]

    Is it because google shows the most popular (hits) and with no new news that is getting more attention, bubble this to the top again ?

    P.S.

    This is a bit off topic, not much however, have any of you ever seen usually early am time, a top story on google only to have it disappear forever in less than 10 minutes of being posted. I have a number of times, and the next time I see such an example, I will so a screen capture (with the time as proof) and post it in General Discussion to prove that I am in fact NOT CRAZY. It usually is about some controversial topic. Is this merely Google's internal Quality Assurance Department busily at work to prevent lawsuits, etc...

    Rhody...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  12. Apr 26, 2010 #11
    What is really bad is the people who are even slightly phobic, really do get scared. And their does not seem to be a way to calm them down.
     
  13. Apr 26, 2010 #12
    Oh, I've seen them alright. It pisses me off beyond all belief that people still see Goggle as somehow, "benevolent". I would love to start captures of them.

    As for the rest... I don't know, beyond the fact that hypatia is right that perhpas it's a cycle of fear feeding itself?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  14. Apr 26, 2010 #13

    Astronuc

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    Of course, CNN and other media are going to grab attention with such a headline. That is in order to get people to read or use their product, so they can advertise.

    The article does state ""Overall it's a pretty low threat, and it's still uncommon in the area, but as the range of the organism expands and the number of cases increases accordingly, it's becoming more of a concern," he says." So it is important to read the entire article.

    Nevertheless, I would prefer less sensational headlines.


    Now the particular fungus is not a signficant threat - yet. But perhaps it could be come significant. The concern is that people who are exposed may not get early treatment, or doctors may miss it, because they are not looking for it. At what point does it become a significant health issue - when 100 people die, or 1000. Then folks would say, why didn't the so-and-so's do something earlier.

    We have a significant population decline of bats in the NE. It appears that a fungus from Europe may have been inadvertently introduced into the US. The death rate is 95% or higher for some bat populations, and maybe close to 100% in some populations according to what I heard this morning.

    One certainly should not be alarmed, but one should be cautious when visiting those areas where the fungus has infected individuals. HIV/AIDS certainly got out of control before people started taking it seriously.
     
  15. Apr 26, 2010 #14

    rhody

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    Well said and on point Astronuc,

    However, no one has addressed the issue of why Google for whatever reason keeps bubbling this up to the top and making it a top ten new worthy story. I want some kind of explanation here and am hoping the vast exposure it gets on PF coincidentally leads to someone or someone who knows someone who works for Google to explain it to me, that's all. New news to add to what has been released I can see, but from what I scanned quickly it was the same story put out three days ago.

    Don't they, Google and CNN realize that too much exposure can backfire, as I stated earlier, I don't watch/read/listen to MSNBC anymore or CNN for that matter, I find it sad that Google feels it has to regurgitate CNN's Newsfeed.

    Edit:

    I went to google news precisely because they didn't seem to parrot MSNBC and CNN, I guess I was wrong.

    Rhody...
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2010
  16. Apr 26, 2010 #15
    ...And yet people are unconcerned with the 150,000 ATV accidents per year which lead to injury...

    I really do think the media bears some moral responsiblity in this... they don't accurately prortray MOST threats, so this doesn't strike me as terribly useful. Lets be honest here... they're calling it "Killer Fungus", not "Potentially Lethal Fungus May Pose Long-Term Risk for Region". It's pure sensationalism, without a mote of responsibility.
     
  17. Apr 26, 2010 #16

    CRGreathouse

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    All Google News does is parrot. It's just a search of existing news, they don't have a news team of their own or anything like that. A good fraction of it is just basic reporting from the wire.
     
  18. Apr 26, 2010 #17
    So, the priority is set by how often people search for the story? Now THAT is truly disturbing... a lot of people must be very concerned. Hell... people just have no way of casually assessing risk on the best days, but this makes it impossible for most!
     
  19. Apr 26, 2010 #18

    rhody

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    So lets try to be productive then, what News do you listen to, watch, read (on-line), that for the most part does not rely on the lowest common denominator ?

    I think "BBC News" for the most part qualifies, anyone disagree, or have other choices ?

    I get BBC News on-line only.

    Rhody...
     
  20. Apr 26, 2010 #19

    Astronuc

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    I listen to NPR, BBC, and browse the NY Times, CS Monitor, and others.

    For a health concern like Cryptococcus gattii, I'd research CDC or NIH. It is considered an emerging infectious disease.

    Cryptococcus gattii Dispersal Mechanisms, British Columbia, Canada
    http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/13/1/51.htm

    Spread of Cryptococcus gattii in British Columbia, Canada, and Detection in the Pacific Northwest, USA
    http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/13/1/42.htm

    Epidemiology of Cryptococcus gattii, British Columbia, Canada, 1999–2007
    http://www.cdc.gov/eid/content/16/2/251.htm


    It is something to be monitored.

    The concern is that, until now, it was considered a tropical disease, but now it seems that it flourishes in a temperate environment, and is a concern much like West Nile Virus or equine encephalitis.
     
  21. Apr 26, 2010 #20

    Evo

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    Actually it's not considered a threat. They said this fungus has changed from the original one in British Columbia.

     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2010
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