Thanks to the excellent NotExactlyRocketScience blog for posting the link to this game. Pandemic II is a complex flash game based on strategy, evolution (though more like design) and the spread of disease. The premise is simple – take a pathogen (bacteria, virus or parasite), and watch its spread across the globe. Along the way you can alter the pathogen to change its properties, making it more infectious, more lethal or less noticeable. The aim of the game is to wipe out the population of the world.
As we follow the story of the swine fluInfluenza A(H1N1) outbreak on the news and the internet, we start to become overwhelmed with information. In all cases related to health, it is vital that we practice critical thinking and take the time to evaluate our sources of information. The more controversial or the higher the impact of a story, the more likely it is for people to be discussing and disseminating (spreading) misinformation. Misinformation can be due to simple misunderstanding, poor communication of facts or delusion and the intention of misleading others.
In this task, we will look at some of the resources related to the swine flu Influena A(H1N1)outbreak and evaluate their usefulness and reliability. We will see how this outbreak relates to syllabus areas of IB Biology and in particular look at the genetic aspect of the evolution of the pathogen.
Here we go – read and watch these resources and try to pick out information that will help you answer the questions below.
1. Reading the articles from Wired, NewScientist and Nature, can you explain briefly how the new form of swine flu has spread to humans?How does this relate to our Biology syllabus?
2. Which of the sources used above do you consider most reliable? Where should we turn for the most reliable and up-to-date information on health issues? Why?
3. What do you feel is the ethical (most responsible) way to report global diseases in the media? Why?
4. How could irresponsible journalism make the impacts of an outbreak or pandemic more serious? How would you balance the public demand for information with the possibility that giving out too much information might lead to harm?
Take part in at least two of the discussion questions. Make use of the sources provided and show evidence of reading around the subject. Address the guiding questions and build on them with your own ideas, supported by research from reliable sources.Make a minimum of three posts in each of two discussions. Pay attention to netiquette.
Here are some quick reminders of the Biology in action:
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Background image: E. hux cells SEM. Best. Cells. Ever. Source: http://www.co2.ulg.ac.be/peace/intro.htm