Service of Credibility II

October 13th, 2014

Categories: Credibility, Infrastructure, Medical, Medical Care, Transportation

Trust me

I keep hearing on newscasts and in quotes by doctors and politicians how we shouldn’t panic about the ebola virus, that you can only catch it if you come in direct contact with an infected person’s fluids; that if you share the air of an elevator or plane with a sick person, you won’t catch it and that this or that city is ready to isolate and harness any case that crops up.

One of the doctors pointed out that only one person has died of ebola in this country in comparison to 20,000 who die each year of flu. [I checked the Center for Disease Control website to confirm this figure. It can’t track a statistic as states are not required to report deaths from flu of people older than 18.]

The problem is how often have public figures told us not to worry when it turnedworld trade center pile out we should? Christine Todd Whitman, former New Jersey Governor and administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency told workers at the World Trade Center pile that they were in no danger of getting sick. Since then many have succumbed to cancer. Perhaps she was instructed to say this. Not only did it trash her political career, it was one more nail in the coffin of the public forced to question the people they are supposed to believe.

Congressional committees have let corporate executives get away with product safety claims for years while the facts proved otherwise: Smoking is one glaring example.

Train tunnel ny njWhat about the crumbling infrastructure? Governor Christie cancelled a train tunnel project between New Jersey and New York called “Access to the Region’s Core” which would build a new tunnel. The existing one was built between 1904 and 1908, according to Wikipedia. True, “they knew how to build things in those days.” But is counting on an essential 106 year old structure realistic just because the Governor says it is? Especially if you suspect the real reason is that he doesn’t want to spend the money under his watch?

Do you accept what you hear and go about your business or are you more skeptical?


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8 Responses to “Service of Credibility II”

  1. ASK Said:

    I am always skeptical about what I hear or read in the media. I do believe the ebola virus can easily get out of control in this country, but we don’t seem to be taking very serious measures to prevent it; also wonder if we really can. As for the WTC, it seems common sense would tell those rescue workers that repeated breathing in air full of debris — any kind of debris, toxic or otherwise — would affect their health in some way. Filtration gear or a limited hours to access at the work site might have resulted in less illness. Re the train tunnel between NJ & NY — all one has to do is look at the speed, economy, displacement of people & businesses, & bad air surrounding the Second Ave. subway construction to realize why Christie said “no.” Maybe he didn’t want to spend the money under his watch, but I doubt successive governors would want that albatross around their necks either.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I understand that nobody wants to start a panic but it would be nice to feel we have some idea of what’s true so as to make decisions such as to avoid crowds etc. Of course this would have an adverse effect on the economy that’s terribly wobbly already, but it also might broaden rush hour to rush hours on trains and busses because people would leave early or late to avoid crowds.

    The Second Avenue Subway has always been a joke and a financial boon and sleight-of-hand for NYC. The city has floated bond issues for this subway since at least the 1950s and not so much as a spade or a pick hit the sidewalk to begin work until recently. And yet there was all that money collected. Hmmmm.

    What will Governor Christie and his successors do when there’s an accident in that tunnel caused by crumbling walls that causes deaths? And what will Amtrak and NJ Transit do when the existing tunnel is closed for years while either it is repaired or a backup is built? Someone has to face the music. Talk about lowering the value of NJ real estate if only busses can reach the city.

  3. ASK Said:

    You are forgetting about ferries, drones, water wings, and flying carpets!!! Besides once local and state politicians’ palms are greased, lawyers paid off,
    and union members feather their beds, no one will be able to afford the fares…

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You win! And you made me smile when I was in a grump! I love ferries–drones not so much.

  5. Lucrezia Said:

    Authorities lie for at least 2 reasons: 1)To prevent a panic, as is possible in the Ebola scare; and 2) Because they find the truth to be inconvenient.

    For what it’s worth, I feel the best policy is to take note of what is being said, and use common sense. Most of that consists of ignoring current nostrums and pronouncements. There are too many people who have access to the public ear, and too few who are genuinely interested in the public good. That’s not likely to change.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    As for panic, there are times my imagination scares me more than the truth.

    I’ve written before about people who cough in your face as you pass them on the sidewalk. Even without a health scare or the advent of flu season, it so annoys me I wish I could design something like the “Baby on Board” sign once popular in cars. Sales would be brisk in cities. It would be something you’d put in front of your face [though most of the time you don’t have time to do a thing other than hold your breath], and would have a recorded element that would screech COVER YOUR MOUTH so that if the person had already passed, they, and everyone else on the block, would know what they’d done.

  7. Hester Cradock Said:

    I won’t give you an argument about whether or not public officials often lie to reassure their constituents about this or that, but I will pick a bone about ebola.

    As I said this morning to a nurse I like and have known for years when she voiced similar concerns while treating me, epidemics are nature’s way of maintaining equilibrium. Given the natural resources available for mankind to consume, there are far too many people on earth. Plagues have been around since the beginning of time. To name only two: The 1918 influenza pandemic took more lives than all the lives lost in the fighting of World War I itself, and the mid-fourteenth century Black Death (Bubonic Plague) killed off one third of Europe’s population. Mankind needs to be reminded of its mortality.

    Ebola may well get out of hand, and millions may well die, but if they do not, nature will find another way to bring earth back into balance.

    Oh, you are worried about what an ebola pandemic might do to Western Civilization? Fret not, demographics and electronic gadgetry have already put that into near rigor mortis. To wit, try finding a library between New York and Montreal which stocks any book at all by the latest Nobel Literature Prize winner, or anyone under fifty who prefers Respighi to Rap.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Funny you should mention Patrick Modiano, the Nobel Prize winner you refer to. Last week I went on to see if they had any of his books for sale and there was one. This week this amazingly smart online retailer had bulked up its offerings. True, many were “sold out” and “on order,” or “advance order,” but there they were! We can’t be blamed if his publisher has done nothing to promote his books in the US and that we’ve not heard of him.

    I suppose your world view of the importance of shedding people so that the rest of the population can survive, like weeding an overcrowded garden, is valid but gosh–what a dreadful way to go. With all the data and smarts we have at our fingertips these days you’d think that we could figure out how to feed the population and educate it enough so that it self-regulates growth to remain a size its crops can handle. If it was your child, sister, brother, parent or friend stricken with a horrible, fatal disease, I wonder if you could be so cool about the situation. I hope you never have to experience such a thing.

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