2300: Everyone's an Epidemiologist

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Everyone's an Epidemiologist
If enough people uphill decide to try the rolling strategy, they can make the decision for you.
Title text: If enough people uphill decide to try the rolling strategy, they can make the decision for you.

Explanation

This comic is another comic in a series of comics related to the 2020 pandemic of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.

Megan complains that the sudden rise in awareness of COVID-19 has led to many people that act as if they are epidemiologists; i.e. experts on the issue of global policy and the virus's traits, while in fact most are just repeating what they have heard from various news outlets, which do not always get everything right. She compares the situation to people who are suddenly expert on mountain climbing safety every time a mountaineering disaster hits the news - and uses an analogy of Joseph Beuys' "Everyone is an artist" for saying that.

Cueball notes that her analogy fails to account that everyone is directly affected by the virus, meaning that everyone should be educating themselves on the topic as much as possible, similar to how if everyone was stranded in mountains all at once, lots of people would try to become experts as fast as possible.

Megan acknowledges this fact, but continues the mountaineer analogy to the virus saying that she wishes those that now think they are experts would at least not go out on TV saying they found out that everyone would come down fast if they just curl up in to balls and roll down because their "research on gravity" says they will get to the bottom quickly, which Cueball agrees.

In corona pandemic terms, this is probably a reference to those that claim we need to get out of lockdown as fast as possible, to save the economy (the closure of which has its own costs, potentially including losses of life through e.g. depression, homelessness, displacement, and so on), and maybe to induce herd immunity (SARS-CoV-2 does not mutate as rapidly as e.g. the influenza family of viruses, so it is hoped that individuals who are infected and survive will develop long-term immunity, and that a single vaccine will be very broadly effective, but this is still not known for certain as of this writing). But those are not considering all the lives at stake, which is what frustrates Megan. Who should decide that those with weak immune systems should be placed in such grave risk, for the better of the economy? Maybe not the every-man who has read something on the internet... which could be wrong, see 386: Duty Calls.

The title text explains how the decision may not even be yours; if those who were in more precarious positions above you now start to hit you on the way down and cause you to tumble as well, you will also end up as one of those rolling downhill. And in pandemic terms - if enough people ignore the precautions, then it will be much harder for the rest to avoid getting the disease, which will cause more deaths.

The rolling-down-hill strategy is reminiscent of 1217: Cells in that it solves the immediate problem (whether being stuck on a mountain, or having some disease) while also likely killing the patient. It may therefore be in reference to Trump's widely reported comments that an injection of a disinfectant could cure coronavirus; such an injection would "kill" (inactivate) any virus particles it contacted, but it would also kill so many of the patient's cells as to risk the patient's life.

The Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake is an annual event in which people intentionally roll down a steep hill (chasing after a wheel of cheese, or a foam replica since 2013), and they do indeed reach the bottom very quickly (the cheese was known to reach speeds in excess of 70 mph) and are often injured enough to require hospitalization, although because all participants are volunteers in good health, there have been no fatalities. The May 2020 event has been canceled due to COVID-19.

Alternately, it may be a reference to the "just succumb to the problem" solution of ignoring the dangers involved in letting what happens happen. Just quickly get everyone into the valley bottom and they all (who survive) subsequently have a herd immunity where none of them now needs to be scared of falling any more, and can jostle against anyone else without any such issues.

Transcript

[Megan and Cueball are walking with makeshift medical masks covering their lower faces. Megan has thrown her arms in the air, and a star burst at her forehead where her speech line emanates, indicate she is agitated.]
Megan: Ugh, everyone's an epidemiologist.
Megan: It's like when there's a mountaineering disaster in the news, and suddenly everyone is an expert on mountain climbing safety.
[In a frame-less panel they walk on together.]
Cueball: I mean, it's not exactly like that.
Cueball: If the entire world's population were suddenly stranded on mountaintops together, a lot of people would understandably be trying to become mountaineering experts really fast.
Megan: Okay, that's fair.
[Megan stops and lift both hands palm up while Cueball walks past her.]
Megan: But I do wish they wouldn't keep going on TV and saying "According to my research on gravity, if everyone curls into a ball and rolls, we'll get to the bottom quickly!"
Cueball: Yes, that's definitely not helping.

Trivia

  • This is a rare Thursday comic, published on Thursday, April 30.
    • It is unclear whether Randall forgot to release this on the regular Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule or if there were other reasons for the delay.
    • A Friday comic was released normally, within 24 hours, thus it is likely just a problem with the release or problem with getting it finished on time.


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Discussion

(I was seriously thinking, from the first glance of the title, we were going to get another visit to 1052. Although "An Epidemiologist's Life Is Not A Happy One" could be worthwhile.) 162.158.155.194 16:30, 30 April 2020 (UTC)

Ok, not sure that particularky stupid Trump 'advice' is a part of it, even if he proclaims himself an (apparently sarcastic) expert. And I think the cheese-rolling is interesting but at best tangential. Added my thoughts re: Herd Immunity to the end (ties in well with the titletext) but welcome future thoughts and re-edits to improve some awkward phrasing and perhaps spit the Titletext out into a traditional (pre-Trivia) end para of its own. Or whatever is seen fit. 141.101.107.84 17:02, 30 April 2020 (UTC)

Ok, para added with "flock immunity" before Trump now needs reviewing against the one with "herd immunity" link after the cheese. (Re: comment below about needing tempering - I'm not sure either says it's a good idea.) 162.158.159.74 00:57, 1 May 2020 (UTC)
Do we also need to be more Fair and Balanced, and include the fact that it seems that (at least from the numbers this morning) 31% of known cases have already recovered and 7% of known cases have died (based on 3,270,000 cases known, 1,020,000 cases recovered, 234,000 dead)? And that we've shut the world economy down (based on a world population of 7,594,000,000 people) for a virus that has only managed to infect .04% of us?Seebert (talk) 13:04, 1 May 2020 (UTC)
"cases known" is a key word there: We don't know how many cases go undetected nor how many of those result in deaths not reported as connected to the virus, so "only managed to infect .04% of us" is not an accurate statement. I personally do not feel endangered by the virus & do believe that the shutdown has been leveraged by a bipartisan coalition of financial elites to further centralize privatized profits & ownership while simultaneously using the virus as an excuse to justify further erosion of civil rights... however I do not feel the least concern to maintain an economy that benefits the most wealthy with increasing exclusivity. If anything, I would wish for more meaningful disruption & a move to decentralized power structures. This epidemic has already ended lives on an order of magnitude greater scale than 9\11 & it's likely to return at not-insignificant scales year after year even with immunization. I am not an epidemiologist, but I think this is a strong motivation for us to take a long hard look at general immune health & what impact the long-term effects of worldwide chemical stress have on our resistance to such illnesses. I'm much less worried about employment or investor returns than I am deeply worried about what profit-driven decision making is doing to the general public's quality of life. I'm not worried about the shutdown; I'm worried about what hasn't shut down.
ProphetZarquon (talk) 16:05, 1 May 2020 (UTC)
pretty sure this discussion *IS* the explanation of this comic...

The comment about accepting losses to acquire herd immunity should be tempered: it's been pointed out by *real* epidemiologists that we don't know yet whether surviving COVID-19 will confer useful immunity; hence WHO's recommendation that countries wait to issue immunity certificates. 22:56, 30 April 2020 (UTC)

Third paragraph: 'all at ONCE' 172.69.34.220 23:06, 30 April 2020 (UTC)

Saw that, before reading your comment. Corrected it. ("Ones"->"Once", for reference.) 162.158.159.74 00:57, 1 May 2020 (UTC)

When and where were Trumps comments regarding disinfectants misreported? As far as I can tell, the linked guardian article reports basically the same things other news outlets have, that Trump said: "And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute! And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning." If this is actually misreported, what did he actually say instead?

The misreporting was a combination of taking the statement out of context, plus public ignorance and interpretation. Everybody immediately jumped to "injecting bleach" when in reality he was talking about Ultraviolet Blood Infusion, a disinfectant technique used with cancer patients for the last 50 years. The hint is that the quote in question came right after the disinfecting properties of sunlight. Trump is a different kind of politician- nobody other than him would be a big enough idiot to brainstorm in the middle of a press conference- but he's not THAT big of an idiot. Also, just to prove the press is a bigger idiot than Trump, well, Ascorbic Acid is a perfectly safe injectable disinfectant at large enough doses. Turns a portion of your blood into hydrogen peroxide.Seebert (talk) 15:05, 1 May 2020 (UTC)
I think you're still giving him too much credit. I can believe he had been briefed on potential applications of ultraviolet blood infusion & ascorbic acid injection, but what came out of his mouth was unambiguously ignorant spitballing in front of the press. He didn't reply with "I was talking about ultraviolent blood intrusion and lysergic acid injection" or any other stumbling but quasi-comprehensible explanation when questioned about it later: He claimed he was being sarcastic. Either he's lying about that, or he's doing sarcasm wrong; he's definitely not qualified to be making decisions for other people nor to act as a mouthpiece for those who do.
ProphetZarquon (talk) 16:17, 1 May 2020 (UTC)