Friday, June 1, 2007

The TB scare - A real time example of how conspiracy theories are born.

How do conspiracy theories begin? This is a question that has received some serious study but very little of it has been done from the point of view of conspiracy theorists. The TB scare is a prime example of how certain mechanisms begin to work which lead to a theory being produced. The mechanisms are almost always related to lack of information, conflicting information or a breakdown in processes that occur in a pattern that simply should not occur. Coincidence always plays a part in any of these mechanisms, coincidence or synchronicity is a central component of any conspiracy theory.

Let’s look at the details that are too strange to not overlook and which seem suspicious at least on the first look, if not on a more deep investigative level:

1) There is a great deal of conflict in the statements being made between the CDC, Fulton County Health Department officials and the patient himself. The father of the patient is even saying that he recorded a meeting with these people where he asked questions to explicitly define what the health officials considered to be his options for traveling on a plane.

There will always be two ways of looking at and interpreting conversations and events, its simply a part of human nature that we all see things differently. However, with health officials and lawyers being at the center of this fiasco, some clarity should shine through and in this case the facts seem muddy and unfocused.

2) The father-in-law of the patient is not only a CDC employee, he is a microbiologist who’s area of professional specialty is the spread of TB. The father-in-law made a strange and surprising news conference yesterday in what appears to have been the front of his home. He stated that he did not give his son-in-law TB, that he did not speak with his son-in-law as a CDC representative and that he had no control over his actions.

This is very odd on several levels and the first thing that comes to mind is exactly what he and his son-in-law did talk about in relation to this situation. I cannot believe that this Dr. would not have been extremely interested in the details of his son-in-law’s health situation and most especially would have been interested in his plans to travel. His strongly worded statements that he, and the CDC, did not give his son-in-law TB are strange in that it has not even been suggested that he or they did in fact give him the disease. This kind of heading off at the pass strategy is peculiar.

3) The patient claims that he did not fully understand the risk involved in this little adventure and that he was convinced he was not contagious. Even though it was not discovered until after he had left the country that the form of TB he has was the XDR strain, he was still aware that he had a multiple drug resistant strain of the bacterial infection.

On a regular basis we are made aware of the ever increasing problem with drug resistant illnesses. I, and many others find it odd that this fact alone did not concern this young man more seriously when he was diagnosed. Just the term TB alone is enough to frighten most people, treatable and low level of contagiousness or not. To get on a plane and set off to Europe with your new bride is actually unfathomable. Even if you consider the point of view that he was selfish and did not want to waste the money spent on this trip there is still the fact that family, most certainly the father-in-law, would have been alarmed at the intention to travel in that condition.

With these inconsistent and almost unanswerable questions and answers, the attention of people is caught. When things do not add up, and in the TB scare case many things do not add up, people will begin to dig into the connections and facts much more deeply. Things do happen around us for which there is no explanation. Coincidences that seem improbable can and do happen. But when a breakdown of process occurs on a level this great, and involving a system that is fairly well defined and tested, suspicions will arise.

The inaction by the border officer who let this man pass is almost too unreal to be true. Here you have an employee who has been chosen for their ability to follow rules and orders unquestionably, who sees before him a computer screen that tells him to don protective clothing, isolate the suspect and notify officials immediately and his response is to let the man pass because he “looks healthy”? These things do not add up, human error rarely compounds itself to these levels, and I cannot think of an instance where the errors have been so widely spread where there was not something behind the scenes, guiding the outcome.

Now, I am not saying that the TB scare is a conspiracy theory. To be honest I can only see signs of a possibility, but I can see no real connecting string to each phase of this event. But the fact that the coincidences and errors all indicate a resemblance to known aspects of conspiracy theory (Revelation of Method for one) should be enough to concern the CT researcher and enthusiast, as well as leave the non-CT with a sense of uneasiness.

While the information is still developing and this is extremely fresh in your mind you should take note that the surrounding facts and oddities of this case are exactly how a conspiracy theory starts. Whether you believe all, some or no conspiracy theories it should still be something that you note.

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