Swine Flu and the Next Pandemic

Paul Hoffman: We are here now for our second panel, which we’ve called “Swine Flu and the Next Pandemic.”

Back in the Middle Ages, there were probably infectious diseases that hit a village and wiped everybody out. And then there were no humans near enough for the virus to jump to, so it’d just die out.

Now in this day and age, where the earth is much more populated than it was in the Middle Ages, where we have jet travel, where we’ve moved into areas like the rain forest, where there is a lot of species of microbes and things that we come in contact with that we didn’t in the Middle Ages, there is much more likelihood that new diseases will spring up.

We saw this even before jet travel really took off, and that was in 1918 where we had the influenza epidemic, where 50 to a 100 million people was the estimate that died. That’s a third of the population of Europe at the time. And 500 million people were infected, that’s the third of the population of the world; the population was 1.6 billion back in 1918.

The reason we are here today is of course to discuss swine flu, and understand what the latest thinking is about whether it’s a threat to public health, to understand what we learned from it, meaning what medical scientists have learned from it, what our public health system has learned from it. So we will ever be more prepared when we have the next public health crisis.


Recorded on: July 14, 2009.

Paul Hoffman, Big Think's Editorial Chairman, sets the stage for a panel discussion on global epidemics.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

What’s behind our appetite for self-destruction?

Is it "perverseness," the "death drive," or something else?

Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Each new year, people vow to put an end to self-destructive habits like smoking, overeating or overspending.

Keep reading Show less

Can the keto diet help treat depression? Here’s what the science says so far

A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.

Photo: Public Domain
Mind & Brain
  • The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
  • Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
  • Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
Keep reading Show less

Douglas Rushkoff – It’s not the technology’s fault

It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.

Think Again Podcasts
  • It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
  • Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
Keep reading Show less