Letter: Reduce Ebola panic with science literacy _lowres

In this Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014 photo, Allina EMS first responders receive training on the latest protocol for handling future patients possibly infected with Ebola in Mounds View, MN. Here, Allina paramedic Jake Shepard, second left, and Allina EMT Pete Cheolis, left, train how to cocoon a potential Ebola patient - fellow Allina paramedic, Tracy Huebner, foreground, portrayed the role of the patient. Looking on is their trainer Renee Rosenberg, Allina operations supervisor. (AP Photo/The Star Tribune, David Joles)

If there was a safe vaccine against the Ebola, would you take it? I think most people would say yes. Yet why do so many Americans refuse flu vaccination, when thousands of American lives would be saved every year? I find this contrast noteworthy.

Another interesting revelation for me during this Ebola scare is the high level of scientific illiteracy in this country. People are faulting public officials for not knowing every detail about Ebola, not realizing that the scientific method is based on developing theories after gathering evidence.

Lack of scientific information can only be corrected by experimentation, which takes time, money, commitment at high levels and ethical practices (there are guidelines for experimentation in humans).

Theories may change, based on new evidence. I believe that the level of irrational panic would be greatly reduced if Americans placed higher value on science education and literacy.

Marion Freistadt

founder, Virology Institute of New Orleans

New Orleans