Ann Reid at SkeptiCal 6/6 “OMG Virus! Flu, Ebola, Measles, and When You Really Should Be Afraid”

Just got this email and thought some of the talks would be of interest. Note – I love Ann Reid – having worked with her when she was at the American Academy of Microbiology. She is simply awesome.


Dear northern California friends of NCSE,

NCSE’s executive director Ann Reid will be speaking on “OMG Virus!
Flu, Ebola, Measles, and When You Really Should Be Afraid” as part of
SkeptiCal 2015, the Northern California Science and Skepticism
Conference, held all day on June 6 at the Oakland Asian Culture
Center, 388 9th Street #290 in Oakland.

A description of her talk: “Ebola, influenza, bird flu, SARS, HIV,
West Nile, Hantavirus, measles — one could go on. Each of these
viruses has, at one time or another (or in some cases repeatedly),
been the subject of breathless front-page scare headlines. Fear, after
all, grabs our attention. And fear, when it comes to viruses, can be a
highly appropriate response. But our fears are often disproportionate
to the actual degree of risk. Furthermore, because fear is a highly
effective tool for manipulation, emphasizing — sometimes exaggerating
— risks plays a big part in public communications about viruses. So
what’s a layman to do? When is it appropriate to be afraid, and what
kinds of precautions are reasonable? Three case studies will
illustrate the complicated ways that fear can get in the way of a
clear-eyed view of how much risk a virus poses, and what a reasonable
person should do about it. First, the 1918 influenza virus killed
between 20 and 50 million people worldwide. What made it so lethal,
and are warnings that bird flu could cause a similar outbreak
justified? Second, how concerned should we be about Ebola, and what is
an appropriate response? And finally, how has fear of vaccination
superseded fear of the diseases it prevents?”

Also speaking at the conference will be plenary speakers Peggy G.
Lemaux on “Angst in the Grocery Aisle,” Natalie Batalha on “Toward
Other Earths, Other Life,” and John P. A. Ioannidis on “Reproducible
Research: True or False?” and breakout speakers Ron Hipschman on
“Science (in) Fiction,” Isil Arican on “International Skeptical
Activism,” Kenzi Amodei on “Your Inner Simulator,” and Frank Mosher on
“Workshop for Producing Skeptical Children.” Plus there’ll be
entertainment from Robert Strong the Comedy Magician.

Tickets are available now. If purchased before May 1, regular tickets
are $35.00, $25.00 for students. For further details and to purchase
tickets, visit:

Author: Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. (see my lab site here). My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis

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