Thursday, December 19, 2002

Birds May Spread Ebola Virus

On Tuesday, December 16, two press releases (one and two) from Purdue News reported on the results of a research study published in the December 15 issue of the Journal of Virology. News that birds may be capable of spreading the Ebola virus was soon picked up and broadcast by such news outlets as Reuters, BBC News, and others. By 9:45 PM EDT on Thursday, December 19, a Google search for articles with the key words birds and ebola yielded an amazing 2,840 hits, while a Yahoo search yielded an even more incredible 5,380 hits. There is little doubt that the news of this discovery has traveled infinitely faster than the birds can spread the virus itself.

Is there a hidden message here about the spread of information and (especially) misinformation or disinformation on the World Wide Web? Now that anyone with an Internet connection has the ability to promote themselves as an "expert" on any subject they choose (like me, for example), who are we to believe? Chaos may be closer than we realize.

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