Friday, November 11, 2005

Flu, evolution and Ewald   posted by Razib @ 11/11/2005 06:24:00 PM

John Hawks has a nice post up summarizing the debate that Paul Ewald has been getting into in regards to avian flu. It seems to me John leans a bit toward Ewald's position, and that is where I also come down. As we have noted on this weblog, the downstream consequences of an avian flu "pandemic" are likely to be negative and significant no matter the biological probabilities. But, I also tend to suspect that the "public health experts" are not as knowledgeable about the evolutionary big picture as the public might think (actually, I doubt the public is much aware of the evolutionary issues implied), and, there is some overreaction going on to take into account the worst-case-scenario, as opposed to the expectation. And you can't discount the influence that personal interests (jobs, research money, etc.) might have on the opinion of experts who really aren't that expert in the first place.