Ebola Isn't Just Fear Mongering

There have been many accusations that the current Ebola outbreak is another example of fear mongering, or deliberately focusing on the fear involved with an issue. This could not be further from the truth.  It's important to understand that Ebola is a very serious fever that is often fatal in humans. The World Heath Organizations (WHO) defines the current Ebola outbreak as "the largest and most complex Ebola outbreak since the Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976." 

There has been a lot of false information flying around the news, mostly from people that are not versed in science. Check out two scientific sources below for some great facts on this disease:

From Dr. Calelph Wilson's story in Ebony:

"Evidenced-based information is critical.  Social media such as Twitter is a rapid way to access expert information and conversations on Ebola. For example, the National Science & Technology News Service (NSTNS, of which I am a member) recently hosted an Ebola Twitter chat with Professor A.O. Fuller, a virus expert from the University of Michigan. There are a host of Ebola virus related hashtags with very good information. It is critical to avoid sources that claim that Ebola is a hoax, a conspiracy or isn’t real without any basis."

From Dr. Marshall Shepherd's story in the Washington Post:

"I suspect that federal agencies like NIH and CDC have also suffered from gamesmanship. I can’t imagine that they have not been diligently thinking about the Ebola problem for years. However, I can imagine that budget cuts and other stresses on the science infrastructure and funding agencies would affect capability. "

Check them out and get educated by scientists!

Last Night a #Cosmos Saved My Life

Last night the series premiere of Cosmos, a miniseries exploring the universe, debuted on Fox. Its a reboot of the original 1980s series which was hosted by astronomer Carl Sagan, and is one of the most widely watched miniseries in history. I saw part of the original series in the mid and late 80s, but I was still young and didn't fully appreciate it.

Last night, a Cosmos saved my life.

After graduating college, my good friend Raymond told me about Sagan's book Cosmos, which was made after the TV series gained in popularity. I immediately recognized the name as the series that I watched so many years before, but I did not know that the book would become one of my favorites of all time. OF ALL TIME.

Sagan has a way of describing complicated topics such as the length of time since the big bang in terms that can be grasped by a variety of folks. His Cosmic Calendar - where the entire history of the universe is placed in a calendar year - remains one of my favorite ways to explain exactly how new humans are to the universe. All of recorded history takes place at the very, very end of the calendar. Puts things into perspective.

I had so much fun watching Cosmos and participating in the discussions that followed on and offline. Be sure to check me out on Twitter (@ShareefJackson) every Sunday at 9pm Eastern as I tweet about Cosmos during the show. A sample of my tweets from the premiere are shown below via Storify.