The Cold Equations of Ebola

Belmont Club » Viral

Much of the coverage has centered on the epidemic in Liberia and Nigeria, because these countries are relatively accessible to English speaking journalists. But  we have no idea what is happening in Sierra Leone or Guinea, which is one of the most corrupt countries on earth. Officials claim only about 1,000 people have died from Ebola in West Africa so far, ‘not many’ in such a vast region. But this completely underrates the real danger. The relevant population against which such casualties must be measured are the medical personnel. They are being wiped out. Africa has a very limited store of scientific, medical and technical human capital and once these irreplaceables are killed or intimidated then the man issuing the medical exit visas will be an illiterate with a rubber stamp.

And then anyone can get on a plane. Maybe anyone already can — providing he’s official.

Culture is the key to survival, not just in Africa but also in the West. The prosperity of the last 70 years has made us forget that exact knowledge matters, not for any reasons of social status, but for survival. Nature doesn’t care what you think. It doesn’t care about spin doctors say or what someone said in a speech. The virus is a physical information object, which given input, produces output. “Don’t touch the walls!” applies as much to presidents as to villagers.

This is the heart of it, and it is the deadly vulnerability of the progressive, politically correct West.  Ebola is a disease arising out of Africa.  It has so far primarily infected Africans.  This makes it an obvious target of race baiters, who will try to “protect” Africans and, by extension, all blacks, against “racist accusations of being diseased.”

And if the disease does jump to the United States, it will likely first take hold in the poorest of the urban areas, which themselves surround cores indistinguishable from many third world countries.  Democrat strongholds, in other words.  And Democrats will try to protect those strongholds against the perception that they are incubating and spreading the disease.

But nature doesn’t care about all, or any of that.  Political and/or cultural calculations don’t enter in to the mathematics of nature.  There is a very famous SF short story called The Cold Equations, in which the choice must be made in which the “cold equations” of mass, fuel, and distance require that an innocent girl must die in order that many others may live.  The author was honest – no happy ending.  The equations were not altered at the last moment because the girl was innocent.  Nature doesn’t care.  The equations are what they are, and you can’t change them because they are politically incorrect, or unfair, or deadly.  The girl died.

That’s what we’re looking at now.   And I don’t think the west is culturally or politically ready to deal with our own cold equations.

About Bill Quick

I am a small-l libertarian. My primary concern is to increase individual liberty as much as possible in the face of statist efforts to restrict it from both the right and the left. If I had to sum up my beliefs as concisely as possible, I would say, "Stay out of my wallet and my bedroom," "your liberty stops at my nose," and "don't tread on me." I will believe that things are taking a turn for the better in America when married gays are able to, and do, maintain large arsenals of automatic weapons, and tax collectors are, and do, not.


The Cold Equations of Ebola — 16 Comments

  1. One direct flight from Lagos to Atlanta, one to Houston, and two to New York… Wonder who’s cleaning the planes after they arrive and where all those vibrant passengers(and their vibrant loving DWLs) are going to end up. I figure shortly we’ll get to see a live version of The Walking Dead.
    I believe I’ll take the wife up to Dunnellon for a couple of weeks to see the kids…

  2. The equations are what they are, and you can’t change them because they are politically incorrect, or unfair, or deadly.

    Further proof, as if any were needed, that so-called “math” is a tool of racist white men.

    By the way, there’s a debunking of “The Cold Equations” by some tool called AT Miller. The tool spends his time nit-picking the details and castigating the cold, uncaring crewmen. And thereby totally missing the point of the morality play.

  3. I immediately thought of that short story when I read the header of this post; it made quite an impact on me when I first read it. Now there was another short story by someone who, like Captain Kirk, didn’t believe in the no win scenario. It’s entitled “The Cold Solution”. The solution was that the pilot used a laser scalpel to remove -if memory serves- one of his own legs and an arm and a leg from the child so that the mass-fuel equations would hold. It’s nowhere near as well written as “The Cold Equations”, but it does present a possible alternate solution, should things get bad.

    Here’s the real question: would anyone has the stones to remove enough of the infection at once to save the rest of humanity. Imagine planting a mushroom on the island of Manhattan a la “The Avengers” to save the the country. Would that, could that, even possibly be considered as a solution? Sure, it’s horrifying to contemplate, but sometimes there simply isn’t another solution.

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