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The Flu (Health)
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Ishmael


In: Toronto
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For many years now, I have been a secret skeptic of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic.

You are probably wondering how I can manage to be skeptical of such a widespread and well documented phenomenon occuring in recent history.

Of course, I don't doubt that massive numbers of people died. Nor do I doubt that the death rate bore all the hallmarks of an epidemic. I just doubt it was "the flu" that killed everyone.

In fact, I go further.

I have as long had my doubts that the deaths were caused by a communicable contagion.

I started down this road when I began to question the received wisdom regarding the fate of American Indians, supposedly killed off in a holocaust of disease brought to the Americas by Columbus and Co. I've just got it in my head that this probably didn't happen at all -- that diseases do not wipe out entire populations in that way, regardless of the susceptibility of the population. In fact, I think there may be some big breakthroughs coming in the study of how populations (as opposed to individuals) cope with disease -- and how diseases cope with populations (Hint: They make friends).

So. If the flu wasn't responsible for the deaths, what caused so many to die?

Today... I found my candidate.

Aspirin.
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Hatty
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In: Berkshire
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Sounds like the American navy inadvertently poisoned the people they were trying to help just as American soldiers dished out chocolate bars to concentration camp survivors with the best of intentions.
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Grant



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Fascinating.

One of your problems will be to explain why Spanish flu was more deadly to the young than the old. Surely old people would have been just as likely to take aspirin?

Orthodoxy deals with this easily by saying that the Spanish flu must have been similar to an earlier flu.
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Ishmael


In: Toronto
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Grant wrote:
Orthodoxy deals with this easily by saying that the Spanish flu must have been similar to an earlier flu.


An earlier flu? Is there a specific earlier flu that killed off massive numbers of young people?
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Hatty
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In: Berkshire
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One of your problems will be to explain why Spanish flu was more deadly to the young than the old. Surely old people would have been just as likely to take aspirin?

It depends on body mass index. The stipulated dose on aspirin etc. is different for adults and children.
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Chad


In: Ramsbottom
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Ishmael wrote:
Grant wrote:
Orthodoxy deals with this easily by saying that the Spanish flu must have been similar to an earlier flu.


An earlier flu? Is there a specific earlier flu that killed off massive numbers of young people?


What Grant is saying is that orthodoxy would argue that the elderly, experienced better survival rates than younger adults, because of the greater chance that they had been previously exposed to related (but more benign) strains of the virus and thus had a greater natural immunity.

But this argument falls down because children also had better survival rates than young adults... and they couldn't possibly have acquired greater immunity.

Aspirin poisoning, on the other hand, fits this differential survival pattern far better.

One of the most damaging effects of the pandemic would have been on the economy... and the new wonder drug would have (as always) been targeted at that section of the population deemed most important to the economy... adults of working age, who just happen to have experienced the highest mortality rates.

Ishmael is dead right... aspirin was more than a bit part player.
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Ishmael


In: Toronto
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Could those who have found the aspirin link have missed the wider implications due to paradigm error? Surely if they can see the potential of Aspirin to kill and would have access to sales statistics for the drug, which could be matched against death rates? Wouldn't they have looked?
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Chad


In: Ramsbottom
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Ishmael wrote:
Surely if they can see the potential of Aspirin to kill and would have access to sales statistics for the drug, which could be matched against death rates? Wouldn't they have looked?


But that could have serious implication with regards to the drug treatment strategy being currently employed against swine flu... the paradigm still holds that the very young and the elderly are less at risk and resources should be targeted, in the first instance, at younger adults.

It is imperative therefore that "careful ignoral" is employed so as not to rock the boat.
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Ishmael


In: Toronto
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Chad wrote:
It is imperative therefore that "careful ignoral" is employed so as not to rock the boat.

Yes. That is what I am thinking.

In fact, I suspect the paradigm error runs much deeper.

Except in the rarest of circumstances, communicable disease isn't deadly. In fact, most communicable pathogens are good for you (some are undesirable but most actually promote good health). Excessive hand-washing and obsessive cleanliness break down important communication pathways we haven't even begun to understand.

When the microscopic world was first identified, it was in the context of understanding why some people died when they drank water from certain sources. We later discovered that organisms similar to those in the water that made people sick could be passed from person to person and that many illnesses -- such as measles and chickenpox -- were prevented when the pathway between human beings was interrupted.

But it seems to me, as an uneducated outsider, that most life-threatening illness continues to arise from external sources -- not human-to-human transmission. That is, if I drink water and get sick, you must drink the same water to catch my illness; you can't catch it from me.

Even the great successes, such as the elimination of Polio, are due to innoculating humans against external threats -- not human-to-human pathogenic transmission. While leprosy is said to be contagious, according to Wikipedia, only 5% of the population is said to be genetically receptive to infection (why?).

Places like the CDC have been built from fears of epidemic transmission of deadly pathogens but perhaps those fears are completely unwarranted.

Now... if human beings are passing lots of innocuous viruses and bacteria back and forth, what purpose does such transmission serve? Is the movement of these little critters of benefit only to them or is there a larger symbiosis at work?

The notion that bacteria are of benefit to individual human beings is now well established but to my knowledge, except in the case of the immediate colonization of newborns, no one has considered the possibliity that bacteriological exchange is of benefit to the entire human network.
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Ishmael


In: Toronto
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Chad wrote:
But that could have serious implication with regards to the drug treatment strategy being currently employed against swine flu...


And for the record, swine flu fears are manufactured by institutes like the CDC and NIH to justify their bloated budgets (completely innocently of course). Of this I have long been certain. Swine flue is... the flu.

Now... let me put this idea out there.

When a woman gets pregnant, her body is disfigured and she does not feel very good. She often vomits in the beginning and, as the condition develops, her mobility decreases. She gets back aches and stretch marks and varicose veins. Her entire body is transformed and often in ways she would rather it not be.

Sounds a lot like a disease and certainly, the single-celled sperm, has behaved much like an infection: Attacking her ovum, transforming its genetic structure, and then parasitically implanting the mutated cell structure into her flesh where it siphons off valuable caloric energy.

And the entire process culminates in a most traumatic and painful event that has all the hallmarks of a life-threatening fever. Indeed. It often kills those so infected with "pregnancy".

But is pregnancy a disease? Should we wish to eliminate this sexual pathway between humans to prevent infection?

So not everything that feels bad is truly bad for you.

Now. Two words to leave you with.

Cold.

Flu.
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Grant



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Excessive hand-washing and obsessive cleanliness break down important communication pathways we haven't even begun to understand.


Not just excessive hand-washing. If you are right surely any hand-washing (except perhaps before cooking something) is surely wrong.

And what about teeth brushing? Most dogs have excellent teeth despite eating omnivorously.
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Rocky



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Ishmael wrote:
Could those who have found the aspirin link have missed the wider implications due to paradigm error? Surely if they can see the potential of Aspirin to kill and would have access to sales statistics for the drug, which could be matched against death rates? Wouldn't they have looked?


Here's a paragraph from wiki:

As many as 17 million died in India, about 5% of India's population at the time.[15] In Japan, 23 million people were affected, and 390,000 died.[16] In the U.S., about 28% of the population suffered, and 500,000 to 675,000 died.[17] In Britain as many as 250,000 died; in France more than 400,000.[18] In Canada approximately 50,000 died.[19] Entire villages perished in Alaska[20] and southern Africa.[which?] Ras Tafari (the future Haile Selassie) was one of the first Ethiopians who contracted influenza but survived,[21] although many of his subjects did not; estimates for the fatalities in the capital city, Addis Ababa, range from 5,000 to 10,000, with some experts opining that the number was even higher,[22] while in British Somaliland one official there estimated that 7% of the native population died from influenza.[23] In Australia an estimated 12,000 people died and in the Fiji Islands, 14% of the population died during only two weeks, and in Western Samoa 22%.


I doubt that all those people in India and the Fiji Islands were given large doses of Aspirin.
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Ishmael


In: Toronto
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Well. I have to wonder if those Indians and Fiji Islanders even died of the flu.

Many of you here are unprepared for this claim of mine but I am convinced there is no such thing as an AIDS epidemic in Africa. Fact is, Europeans have chosen to interpret normative African mortality rates in light of their own experience (which is also, delusional, I might add, but that's another part of the larger story).

We cannot take these numbers for places afar-afield as India and the Fiji islands at face value.

I suggest that, should anyone wish to investigate this further, they do as I suggest: Cross-reference sales statistics for aspirin with the local death rate where both data sets are available (probably itself a good indicator that the statistics are more trustworthy). If a strong correlation is found, then I would turn a very skeptical eye indeed toward the numbers we have inherited for the third and developing worlds.
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Ishmael


In: Toronto
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Entire villages perished in Alaska[20] and southern Africa....


Notice that, just as with the AIDS "epidemic", it's always in some far off place that "entire villages" are imagined to have perished.
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Mick Harper
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In: London
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Yes, "far off village syndrome" is well-known to AE-ists (not that it necessarily applies in areas where British medical statistics, however rudimentary, are relevant). In this epidemiological context, the most obvious parallel is the "deserted villages" that plagues are wont to produce. The other possibility -- that plague deaths raise agricultural wages among survivors sufficiently to render marginal villages uneconomic -- is never explored. And for a characteristic AE reason: Marie Celeste plague villages are so much more interesting!

In the AIDS/flu debate, AE-ists should beware that the anti-racism paradigm underpins a lot of the arguments. Liberals reading Ishmael's remarks may feel it, but should ignore it.
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