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What are the side effects to eradicating Polio? Is there a way we can put Polio to a good use?

It is intelligent and important to present and consider different viewpoints before making vital decisions. Having watched the presentation about Polio, I want to commend the merits and efforts to prevent Polio from hurting people. The episode lead me to raise this question: If we completely eradicate Polio, what would the side effects be?

Some side effects would be positive, like suggested by the presentation. However, what are potential negative consequences to its extinction? There are things we do not yet understand. For example, it is possible Polio could be used for good at some point, maybe even as a vaccine for some other disease or future disease. Is there a way we can put Polio to a good use? Completely eradicating another species (even a virus) is extreme. Completely eliminating any group is defined as genocide. While it may not seem likely, it is possible, that it could lead to human dismay.

Polio exists. Is there a way we can coexist or create a symbiotic relationship? I don’t have the answer this question, so I’m asking it. The same question could be posed for anything hated by humans. I support the humanitarian approach as I caution people to think about potential positive uses for Polio and possible side effects to completely eradicating it.

Are motives behind eradicating the virus based on fear? During the presentation on TED, images were shown of people in iron lungs, covered with bumps, and paralyzed, and Mr. Aylward said “this disease was terrifying” and it caused public panic. Is fear beckoned by lack of understanding? What can we do to better understand the other life forms on Earth, specifically viruses like Polio?

It was the man stricken with Polio himself, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whom is notoriously quoted for saying the “only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Fear is an important innate instinct and we have it as a cautionary defense mechanism. As we respond to this instinct, it is important to be motivated also by hope.

  • Jun 10 2013: Interesting. I will check out those articles.Good feedback.
  • Jun 10 2013: Hi Jimmy Strobl,

    Nice intro. “Everything is possible” is very optimistic. Optimism can take you to places you want to be. Thanks for the link to Larry Brilliant. He talks about optimism, too. He seems like a man on a mission. Presenting the virus as aggressive and through the perspective of a mother is motivating to support the cause.

    The suggestion I gave is merely an example of the kind of response I’m requesting. Usually during brainstorming, it is healthy to let even farfetched ideas out of the box. My question is a challenge to you and other out-of-the-box thinkers to try to find a good purpose for Polio.

    Sometimes it’s the way something is used/handled/treated that makes it viewed as bad or good. Polio is viewed as bad…even by me, I admit, I’m biased. But let’s brainstorm a bit. Like garlic, which is good with chicken and veggie dishes, but who wants it with oatmeal or pie? It’s bad in certain environments. Maybe, just maybe, Polio is bad in humans but good in some other undiscovered way.

    We know Polio is a virus, which is a living organism. Life is amazing; therefore Polio at least has that going for it. Can we give it a purpose other than to make people sick? I realize these questions may come across as odd, but with respect to life, I’m going to ask them anyway. If you were Polio, wouldn’t you like it if someone gave you a job and purpose for good rather than being made extinct? I feel like I’m playing Devil’s advocate here, being the voice to a virus that doesn’t speak our language.

    Just because I don’t have the answer to this question, doesn’t mean some researcher, scientist, doctor, or open-minded problem solver won’t come up with it if s/he tries. My questions are simply meant to kick start some brainstorming. If the virus is nearly as aggressive as presented in the videos, then we owe it to humanity to think about it.

    Thanks for the consideration.
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    Jun 9 2013: Everything is possible.

    It is possible that nuclear winter may benefit humanity in the long run somehow, but by ALL likelihood it wouldn't. The same goes for Polio.

    Sometimes fear is a justified response, we have fear to make us alert of threats. Threats that we should avoid, or better prevent, which is the case with Polio.

    The motives for eradicating Polio are part fear, part humanitarian and part economic.
    Sickness isn't good for us, it's as simple as that. What you're suggesting is keeping a disease to have the (unlikely) possibility of preventing another hypothetical disease in the future.

    Have you read up on the eradication of Small Pox?
    TED Prize Talk by Larry Brilliant: http://www.ted.com/talks/larry_brilliant_wants_to_stop_pandemics.html