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Alex Berezow

Executive Editor, Big Think | Executive Editor, Freethink

Dr. Alex Berezow is the Executive Editor of Big Think and the Executive Editor of Freethink. He holds a Ph.D. in microbiology and is a veteran science writer, author, and public speaker. He also is a member of the USA Today Board of Contributors, and his articles have appeared in BBC News, CNN, Wall Street Journal,, Wired, The Economist, The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, and many other publications. His most recent books are The Next Plague and How Science Will Stop It (2018) and Little Black Book of Junk Science (2017).

The Black Death, caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, wiped out 30 to 50 percent of Europe’s population between 1347 and 1351. But, this is just the most infamous of the little microbe’s shenanigans. Y. pestis, which is one-millionth our size, has caused three major pandemics and continues killing people to this very day. The plague gets such a bad rap because it represents some of the greatest tragedies to ever befall the human race.
My grandfather used to keep all sorts of things in the trunk of his car: Fishing gear, duct tape, aluminum foil, a large chain, a defused WWII hand grenade. When we asked why he squirreled away such a random assortment of items, he would shrug and say, “Just in case.” That, in a nutshell, is why we should never destroy the smallpox virus. Just in case we need it someday.
Most Americans don’t think twice about workplace safety. Perhaps they should. In newly updated numbers for 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 4,628 Americans met their demise while on the job.
Editor’s Note: This article was provided by our partner, RealClearScience. The original is here. It has been long thought that one of the characteristics that makes humans unique is our […]