The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Sunday, May 03, 2009

"Swine Flu" madness.

There is a new madness sweeping the world, "swine flu" madness, or H1N1 lunacy. Its symptoms are clear and focus around strange fears of infection. I shall explain.

Iraqi officials at Baghdad zoo have just killed three wild boars, in the strange belief that these boars, through being "swine" could somehow endanger people. So, too, and rather more drastically, Egypt has indicated that it intends to slaughter all 300,000 pigs in the nation, for fear of them harbouring swine flu. I wonder, at times, on hearing such news, whether I have suddenly slipped back to a pre-scientific middle ages and find myself surrounded by a superstitious world.

Let us get some things right: if an animal does not have a disease, it cannot give it to you. A virus does not magically appear out of nowhere - they don't spontaneously generate themselves inside a pig, simply because the virus was formerly called "swine" flu. The wild boars at Baghdad Zoo lived isolated lives with very little opportunity to pick up an infection. Only if one of their handlers became sick with the swine flu could they ever have caught it - yet they have been killed, simply for being "swine". The same goes for the Egyptian pigs. There hasn't been a hint of the new flu in any Egyptian pig - only if a human handler passed it to a pig, could one ever become infected (or an infected pig from outside Egypt was brought in). There is also no evidence, at all, of pigs transmitting this disease to humans, at this time. It is in fact not just a swine flu - but one that mixes swine, avian and human versions of influenza. The logic of the slaughterers seems to be based on the belief that the pigs harbour the virus, (when they don't)and so should be slaughtered to prevent them passing it on, yet, in fact, it is HUMANS who are harbouring the virus. So, applying this same logic to the true situation, would lead to the slaughter of all Egyptian people as a means to ensure that no Egyptian person succumbed to the disease. It is the logic of lunacy.

For me, one of the bigger surprises of this health crisis, is the way that modern countries appear to be acting irrationally. Slaughtering innocent, harmless animals is not the only lunacy. China and Russia, among other countries, have banned the import of pork. Yet, as I have noted, there is no evidence firstly that pigs are harbouring the disease, nor that they are transmitting it to humans. Anyway, humans don't eat raw pork - and if it is cooked, as it always would be, even if infected with scores of pathogens, it should be safe to eat.

It is customarily believed that Homo Sapiens is sapient, yet, at times like this, I seriously doubt it. Sapience, if a property of Mankind, is only a property of a minority of the species. The vast majority are, as nations all over the world are demonstrating, still quite capable of acting on irrational thought, even at the highest governmental level. Perhaps a greater threat to Mankind than pandemic flu, is the limited rationality possessed by so many of its leaders. It is their foolishness that should concern us, more than the H1N1 influenza A virus - for the virus will pass, but their foolishness will remain, at the helm of their nations. Now, that really is something to be scared of.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 7:51 PM 


Blogger Christine said...

So far there haven't even been 1000 cases of this flu. The majority of the people with the flu have survived it. It is nothing like the viruses that have tormented mankind in the past like the Black Death, the 1918 Spanish Flu, etc. If anything like that happened again, then I would agree with being scared.

9:58 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

One reason even experts are being cautious is that they don't know enough about this disease yet. It seems to have a high mortality rate in Mexico, but this could be an illusion if there are many unknown, but mild, infections occurring. Until they know the true mortality rate, they are unable to evaluate the risk.

Look at this way. Say it only has a true mortality rate of 1 in 1000. That sounds like a really mild illness that is nothing to worry about. However, what if it is also highly infectious and goes on to infect 2 billion people. Then there would 2 million deaths. That starts to look significant. If the mortality rate were 1 in 100, for the same number of infections, that would mean 20 million deaths. So, even a relatively benign illness can, if new to Mankind and therefore one which we have no immunity to, cause many deaths.

On the other hand, you are right to note that there are very few cases, at this time. However, you should note that diseases spread exponentially...meaning that a small case number now and for the weeks ahead, could end up being a very large case load in six months or a year's time.

However serious, or not, this disease turns out to be (and it will probably be less serious than at first feared), my point remains: after the disease has passed, the stupidity of certain leaders will remain.

Thanks for your comment.

10:45 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

You are right. They have had no idea how large it could get. They want to avoid 1918 all over again.
I do agree that people need to look at facts before they do drastic things like kill off lots of pork for no reason at all.

6:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suppose the human race will do anything to ensure it's survival even if it's irrational and unnecessary.

11:37 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

The actions I have written of do nothing to improve the chances of survival of the human race...they just ensure the deaths of a lot of pigs. These examples show that the people making the decisions don't understand what they are doing. They are not examples of attempts at survival, but examples of ignorance and/or stupidity.

You are right, though, that humans try hard to survive...though I am not sure that all humans would do "anything"...many humans have limits on what they would do. For instance, would you destroy the whole of the Earth, if it ensured your personal survival (but only you alone?)

12:09 PM  

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