If there’s any health issue that dominates all media currently, it’s the Ebola epidemic, or alleged pandemic. The Ebola issue has created a storm of information that ranges from questions about the origin and spread of the disease to the politics possibly underlying its spread, and to the more fundamental question of who to believe and to what degree.
One observation common to the stories about Ebola is that the issue is controversial on every level. There are even claims that Ebola has been caused by Red Cross administered shots. More prominent in the US media is the big question of banning flights to and from the Ebola-infected countries. Liz Peek in The Fiscal Times has lately speculated on President Obama’s political motives in connection to Ebola in Africa.
Lying or misinforming has been part of most, or all, public health stories, and more often than not, the authorities are caught lying sooner or later. In case of Ebola, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has been criticized repeatedly on several media outlets for misinforming or outright lying to the public. In fact, fingers are pointing to the US government for lying about Ebola when it comes to the way the disease spreads.
The war of information continues and various stakeholders benefit from this war in one or another. On the ultimate receiving end is the public – people who struggle with fear or anxiety. And while in most of the people, this anxiety may be centered on chances of Ebola reaching them or becoming a pandemic, at least some of them will be worried about the proportion of factual information they can access in times when institutions, which are supposed to serve the people whose money runs them, benefit from lying and misinforming.
And that is the kind of anxiety that I would love to see grow into a pandemic.