Respectful Insolence

Unfortunately, I don’t get to see very many movies these days. My wife and I both lead very busy lives, and with periodic spasms of grant writing, plus several new administrative responsibilities, it’s just hard. Last weekend, however, a movie that I’d rather like to see came out. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen it yet; so I can’t give you a definitive review, but the movie caught my interest because it shows at least one thing that I don’t recall ever having seen in a movie before. The movie is Contagion, and here’s its trailer:

It’s not so much the storyline that interests me. After all, how many movies about horrific epidemics have there been since The Andromeda Strain? These sorts of movies all have a sameness about them that makes it really hard for any of them to distinguish themselves from the pack, and it’s not uncommon for the science portrayed to be rather dubious.

Contagion looks as though it could well be different for three reasons. First, the portrayal of the science sounds as though it might be better than average for a movie of this sort. Second, the cast is excellent, and the story appears to be compelling. Third, and most unusual of all, there is a character in the movie played by Jude Law that is not the sort of character I’ve seen in a movie before:

There are a few obvious villains, notably a San Francisco blogger (Jude Law, snaggletoothed and embracing the designated creep role) with the unfortunate name of Alan Krumwiede, as in crumb-weedy. (Mr. Soderbergh also took aim at bloggers in “The Girlfriend Experience.”) A self-proclaimed outsider — “print media is dying,” he yells at a skeptical (and pregnant) newspaper editor — Krumwiede latches onto the pandemic early and before long is profiting from it on his blog (Truth Serum Now), where he pushes a holistic cure, forsythia, a yellow flowering plant used in traditional Chinese medicine. Mr. Soderbergh may like to play outside the cinematic mainstream now and then (as in “Bubble”), but there’s no place for alternatives like blogging and complementary medicine in “Contagion,” where the stakes are too catastrophically high.

Against the likes of Krumwiede are the heroes:

Except that they — like the other good doctors, including Erin, seen wrangling one regional official who testily asks who’s paying for the triage services provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other big-government groups — are terra-firma rationalists. They’re fighting a disease along with natural fear and unnatural fear mongers like Krumwiede, who, from his bloggy pulpit, dismisses science in the name of independence even as he sells out his readers.

I’ve often wondered how long it would take Hollywood to take notice of the dark underbelly of Internet health, namely the alt-med blogger. From my perch here on ScienceBlogs, having been a medical/skeptical blogger for nearly seven years now, it’s easy for me to assume that everyone’s come into contact with characters like Krumwiede online. You and I take for granted that such characters exist. We also know that they have a lot of influence, far more influence than they should. Indeed, one of the reasons I started blogging was because I realized that my previous efforts on that vast wasteland known as Usenet were seen by few people and heeded by even fewer. The other reason was that I started becoming aware of blogs supporting quackery, blogs that were widely read, and I wanted to do something to counter them, given that relatively few bloggers were doing so back then. Even though the number of bloggers countering such pseudoscience has grown remarkably since I first started, it’s still a relatively small number of dedicated quackbusters compared to the much larger medical blogosphere and even compared to the skeptical blogosphere.

From what I’ve been able to gather of Krumwiede’s character without actually having seen the movie yet, Law’s portrayal of him hits all the high–or should I say low–notes. In the movie, Krumwiede claims that there is an all natural cure for the plague and that the government is covering it up. (It’s a homeopathic medication based on the plant described above.) He’s anti-vaccine to the core. He’s an all-around conspiracy nut. He’s also wildly popular in alt-med circles.

Gee, he sounds and awful lot like Mike Adams of NaturalNews.com. In fact, I wonder whether the Krumwiede character is based on Mike Adams. Or maybe Joe Mercola. Or maybe he’s an amalgam of Mike Adams, Joe Mercola, and the Age of Autism bloggers. Who knows? Until I see the movie, I don’t, but maybe you do. Certainly Jude Law dove deep into the anti-vaccine blogosphere to research his part:

“A lot of the reason I wanted to be a part of this project was because the script was so strong, and obviously a strong script and a brilliant director like Steven, you feel, as an actor, confident that you’re almost halfway there,” says Law, who dove deep into the blogosphere to research his role.

“I don’t want to list anyone in particular,” he says, asked to cite a couple of influential bloggers. “I’d rather people see it and draw on their own imagination, but yeah, I certainly looked at an awful lot of blogs, and bloggers who have been interviewed and who have made a bit of a name for themselves, who have become personalities. … I drew on a few and tried to create someone that seemed to fit that particular persona.

I vote Mike Adams. While anti-vaccine blogs like Age of Autism appear to be assiduously avoiding (for the most part) commenting on the movie, two months ago one of Mike Adams’ surrogates on his blog, Ethan Huff, preemptively posted hilarious article that, given how un-self-aware NaturalNew.com writers tend to be, inadvertently proves the point of the movie in creating the character of Alan Krumwiede. The article’s title? Hollywood begins mass brainwashing campaign to get people ready for the next bioengineered virus release. I kid you not. Get a load of this:

The entertainment industry is no stranger to government propaganda campaigns, and the latest Hollywood flicks are no exception. A quick look at the trailer for the upcoming release of the movie Contagion (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sYS…) reveals what appears to be a massive brainwashing campaign designed to prepare the American psyche for the next intentional release of a bioengineered virus — and it also conveniently and subtly programs viewers into accepting the idea that vaccines might be the solution to a major, devastating disease outbreak.

You really have to read the entire article to believe just how loony it is. Huff claims that the themes of major movie releases over the past several decades are predictive of what ends up taking place not too long afterwards, thus demonstrating “that Hollywood is deeply connected to the agendas of those that are now in control of various world governments, including the US government.” He further argues that these movies are “psychological manipulation” designed to dull our minds, turning us into sheeple conditioned for upcoming disastrous events. And why would governments want to prepare us for disastrous events that they themselves will inflict upon us? It’s never really explained. As examples, he cites a scene from the 1998 movie Armaggedon in which a taxi driver tells passengers that the damage to New York City from asteroid hits could be due to a terrorist bomb and a later later scene in which the World Trade Center towers are shown as having sustained serious damage from asteroid hits. Huff even claims that the countdown clock in the movie stuck at the “9:11″ position is a preconditioning effort for the actual event that would happen three years after the movie was released. I’m amazed that Huff didn’t claim that the very invention of the “911″ emergency number in the U.S. back in the 1960s happened because AT&T and Ma Bell knew that there would be a massive terrorist attack on the U.S. on 9/11 forty years later.

Huff’s “restraint” about “911″ aside, I’ve seen some rather astounding examples of conspiracy mongering before, but this one takes the cake. Not only would Michael Bay have had to be in on a massive conspiracy to bring down the World Trade Center towers on 9/11, but that conspiracy would have to be so huge that it encompasses virtually everything, including Hollywood, to the point that it would insinuate itself into a silly big budget action movie made more than three years before the terrorist attacks. One can only wonder if Huff thinks this summer’s latest installmentTransformers movie in which downtown Chicago is destroyed by giant robots from space battling each other is a warning designed to dull us into accepting the real destruction of downtown Chicago by giant robots from space.

After all, Transformers: Dark of the Moon was directed by–you guessed it!–Michael Bay.

Seriously, that’s no sillier than the numerology–yes, numerology–that Huff starts throwing about hither, thither, and yon, like a warped Bible code on steroids, finding “911″ or “9/11″ in The Matrix, Pearl Harbor, and The Simpsons, concluding:

Based on the positioning of what appear to be 9/11 hints prior to the actual event, it appears that one of the next disastrous events on the agenda will be a deadly bio-warfare pandemic of some sort.

The movie Contagion, as well as numerous others in recent years including the 1995 movie Outbreak and the 2009 movie 2012, just to name a few, all seem to be pointing to the release of a deadly virus that will kill millions of people.

And:

Perhaps it is all just one giant coincidence, and there really is no deliberate plan to release deadly, bioengineered viruses. But if mainstream news and entertainment media really is laced with psychological warnings about future events, it is important to take careful note of them now in order to be as prepared as possible.

As I’ve said many, many times. You just can’t make stuff like this up. In fact, I can confidently say that, no matter how ridiculous or nasty the Alan Krumwiede character is, real life (or at least as close to real life as the blogosphere can get) is so much more bizarre. Fortunately, there is the message of Contagion to counter such craziness:

The skewering of such claims–both medical and political–gives the film much of its narrative thrust, and defines its strangely conservative message. (“If I could throw your computer in jail, I would,” a federal agent tells the rogue blogger.) Unscrupulous proponents of alternative medicine threaten to bring the world to ruin, while the scientific establishment strives to beat back the virus with conventional means. In the end, the mainstream authorities are the ones who can save the day, through a series of tense board meetings, PowerPoint slides, cell phone calls, and purposeful walks down hallways (in biohazard suits or otherwise). Salvation turns out to be a matter of getting all the well-meaning technocrats at the CDC and the WHO on the same page, their experimental monkeys in a row, so the proper vaccine can be invented, outsourced, and distributed in a manner that’s both rational and just. Trust in Western medicine, the movie says. Do what the government doctors tell you. And above all else: Ignore those health-nut bloggers!

Which is one of the main messages of this blog, and I’ve pursued it with gusto for nearly seven years. It’s good to see a similar message mirrored in a source that will reach far more people than I could ever hope to, even if people will have a hard time believing that bloggers like Mike Adams and his minions actually exist.

Comments

  1. #1 Todd W.
    September 13, 2011

    Who needs government-engineered viruses when the anti-vaxers are doing just fine themselves, degrading community protection and allowing once rare diseases to start creeping to the fore again.

  2. #2 puppygod
    September 13, 2011

    He might be onto something. In 2003 Pirates of the Caribbean hit the screen and guess when there was an upsurge in the Somalian piracy?

    Seriously though, the movie looks mighty interesting and is on my “must see” list.

  3. #3 Dangerous Bacon
    September 13, 2011

    We must hope that Contagion awakens the sheeple to the Big Pharma/Global Elite agenda of spreading pandemics for mass depopulation purposes, so that they can make lots more money selling us useless drugs.

    Mike Adams is all over this Eugenics Agenda. He has a video. You can Google it (I can’t link to it here because the overlords don’t allow the Truth). They’re out to silence

  4. #4 Lawrence
    September 13, 2011

    There was a great NPR piece on Science Friday a couple of weeks ago with the woman who wrote the original book tha Contagion is based on (my Google-Fu is weak this morning, so I don’t have the name off-hand). She was pursued by Hollywood for years to turn her book into a movie, but she resisted because she didn’t want her ideas watered down by the typical Hollywood treatment.

    When she was approached by Sodebergh, her conditions included: the virus doesn’t come from space, there is no miracle cure, and scientists aren’t the bad guys. All of which (plus others) were agreed upon. They wanted to make as scientifically accurate portrayal as possible – and I believe they’ve succeeded.

    I appreciate the approach of showing the difference between those offering a “miracle cure” vs. all of the actual science, time and effort necessary to do what is necessary in the case of a crisis – or heck, what they would do under normal circumstances as well.

    Anyone offering easy answers is just out to make a buck – it is the real science and real effort that actual produces results. I do hope the movie continues to do well and even happier to see “woo” being skewered.

  5. #5 blackheart
    September 13, 2011

    “downtown Chicago is destroyed by giant robots”

    Now I see the connection between science rationalism and the believe in Alien invasion led by killer robots … the “Transformer Generation”.

  6. #6 STH
    September 13, 2011

    @Lawrence: her name is Laurie Garrett.

  7. #7 Lawrence
    September 13, 2011

    @STH – thanks!

  8. #8 Dianne
    September 13, 2011

    The “911″ references in pre-fall 2001 movies is a reference to the number you call in the US for an emergency, not a precognitive (or in on the conspiracy) reference to an event that hadn’t happened yet. Can we just adopt the European date system and call it 11 Sept so this will stop happening?

  9. #9 Paul Browne
    September 13, 2011

    Sounds like a promising movie, I may have to go see it.

    “It’s good to see a similar message mirrored in a source that will reach far more people than I could ever hope to, even if people will have a hard time believing that bloggers like Mike Adams and his minions actually exist.”

    Too true, and not just of alt-med bloggers, there have been several occasions in the past couple of years where I’ve wondered wheather a couple of AR blogs were actually parody sites…though in the end the sheer nastiness of such sites is a good indicator that they are sadly all too real.

  10. #10 hearshot
    September 13, 2011

    I saw Contagion Friday and quite enjoyed it. It’s not exactly action-packed, but it’s a well-done medical-emergency procedural where the scientists are the good guys and there aren’t any miracles.

    Without spoiling anything for anybody, I will say that by about the 40-minute mark I was thinking of Adams and Mercola every time Law opened his mouth. You get the impression toward the beginning that he’s just a misguided overreactor looking for the Truth in a horrible situation, but as the movie goes on you can see he’s absolutely not.

    @STH: is it based on The Coming Plague? I picked that up embarrassingly long ago but never got around to reading it. If so, given how much I liked Contagion, I’ll have to get working on that.

  11. #11 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    September 13, 2011

    In The Lord of the Rings, there were 9 rings of power for “mortal men, doomed to die” and 11 (3 for the elven kings, 7 for the dwarf lords, and one ring to rule them all) for everyone else.

    Coincidence? I think not.

    The conspiracy goes farther than anyone’s wildest dreams.

  12. #12 lilady
    September 13, 2011

    You guys have got to stop talking about this movie…such talk may “force” me into breaking my long term (eons,it seems) personal policy of not sitting in a movie theater.

    I suspect as the word gets out some of the real crazy bloggers will be crying “foul” and the posters who are into government conspiracy AND anti-vax will have a collective apoplexy about Contagion.

    I’m reminded of the nearby epicenter where West Nile Virus was first identified in birds and the first human cases. Once the virus was identified and we attempted to set up a schedule for aerial spraying…a small segment of the population started rumors about the dangers of the spray.

    P.S. My county is being sprayed this week…my particular area is scheduled for this evening after 7 P.M. and apparently people have become accustomed to this periodic spraying after very rainy summers.

  13. #13 Allie
    September 13, 2011

    I have a lovely forsythia in my backyard and its gorgeous yellow flowers are always a welcome harbinger of spring. I am so pleased to know that it will also be helpful as a pharmaceutical to protect me from the coming plague.

  14. #14 Anton P. Nym
    September 13, 2011

    Contagion got a reasonably-favourable review in the Local Fishwrap, in which the reviewer said he enjoyed the lack of Usual Hollywood Suspects (no general that’s more dangerous than the virus, no government conspiracy to hide it, no brave outsider with The Truth, etc.) but thought it was a bit bloodless in spots.

    He also said that watching Contagion in a theatre is like watching Jaws in a rowboat, because he became acutely aware of every cough and sneeze in the audience and started to wonder how many other people had handled his popcorn bag or touched the arm-rest of his seat… I think I should see if I can set up hand sanitiser concessions in theatre lobbies for the next while…

    — Steve

  15. #15 wintermute
    September 13, 2011

    Mephistopheles:

    And there are 9 original members of the Fellowship, but Faramir and Gollum join later, making 11 total members. And one of the books was called The Two Towers! Clearly, the conspriacy goes back to 1937, which is pretty impressive as the Twin Towers only started construction in 1966…

  16. #16 hearshot
    September 13, 2011

    @14/Steve: “He also said that watching Contagion in a theatre is like watching Jaws in a rowboat, because he became acutely aware of every cough and sneeze in the audience and started to wonder how many other people had handled his popcorn bag or touched the arm-rest of his seat…”

    Somebody in the theater I was in let out a good smoker’s cough at a tense moment in the movie. I’m assuming it was accidental, but there was a noticeable “nervous chuckling” reaction from everybody else.

    I was all right with (if more aware of) people coughing and the occasional sneeze. Can’t say the same about every time I noticed I was touching my face, though.

  17. #17 madder
    September 13, 2011

    @Dianne–

    Can’t you see it? Even the people who developed the 911 emergency system were in on it!

    (Eeyuh… I need a shower or something.)

  18. #18 Denice Walter
    September 13, 2011

    It should be fun to watch the reactions of those who support whimsy-based medicine to the character Mr Law portrays. Maybe one of the more adamant and grandiose will sue Mssrs Soderbergh and Law for plagiarism of his own “original research based material”.

    @ Paul Browne: I agree that the nastiness has been ramped up recently. Amongst the idiots I follow- who sell lots of useless crap- I wonder if the weakened economy ( that ties up customers’ money on real necessities) and lowered sales has anything to do with it? They sound rather peeved.

  19. #19 Bronze Dog
    September 13, 2011

    I guess I’ll be getting a ticket in the near future.

  20. #20 Granis
    September 13, 2011

    One of the most disgusting features of Law’s character, I found, was his use of some sort of PPE suit even after purporting to have cured himself of the disease. It just screamed “I’m a fraud” to me.

  21. #21 Number Ate
    September 13, 2011

    Hey, you’ve been cribbing Tolkein numerology off of that bitch from silencedbysilencedbyageofautism!

  22. #22 Brin
    September 13, 2011

    where he pushes a holistic cure, forsythia, a yellow flowering plant used in traditional Chinese medicine.

    Is forsythia actually edible? I’ve always wanted to taste a forsythia blossom, but never dared in case it would make me vomit or something.

  23. #23 puppygod
    September 13, 2011

    @wintermute

    And there are 9 original members of the Fellowship, but Faramir and Gollum join later, making 11 total members. And one of the books was called The Two Towers! Clearly, the conspriacy goes back to 1937, which is pretty impressive as the Twin Towers only started construction in 1966…

    Ah-hah! So apparently Tolkien placed explosive charges during construction, and this is why they weren’t found – they were build into steel pillars.

    Wait, did we just out-conspirated conspiracy theorists? I didn’t thought it’s even possible?!

  24. #24 brian
    September 13, 2011

    Arthur Allen noted: “In 2006, Participant Productions, one of the producers of Contagion, optioned—but never produced—journalist David Kirby’s Evidence of Harm, a book that purported to reveal the ‘cover-up’ of the vaccine link to autism. Krumwiede mouths, in exaggerated form, some of that book’s theses.”

    http://www.slate.com/id/2303319/entry/2303322/

  25. #25 lsm
    September 13, 2011

    Cantagion is at 83% on rottentomatoes.com. Not bad.

  26. #26 elburto
    September 13, 2011

    I’ve just realised that Shaun of the Dead, the reboot of Dawn of the Dead, and 28 Days Later all preceded World War Z. As we all know, WWZ devastated humankind, and left many formerly rational people so damaged that all they can do is praise Wakefield, Adams and Mercola.

  27. #27 Dianne
    September 13, 2011

    @17: Next 9/11 truther I meet, I’m telling them that, yes, there is a conspiracy. And EVERYONE, except for him/her is in on it.

  28. #28 mcb
    September 13, 2011

    Contagion is well worth your time. Alan Krumwiede get’s told “Blogging isn’t journalism, it’s grafitti with punctuation!” The scientists are heroes, but also very human. The men in black don’t wear black and are fleshed out for once. The plot, like the virus, rolls along relentlessly, dispensing with characters in a realistically random way. The emotion of dread we encountered during the responses to HIV/AIDS, SARS, and even the preparations for H1N1 are evoked poignantly but without hysteria. Get thee to a multiplex!

  29. #29 Anton P. Nym
    September 13, 2011

    Okay, I really didn’t need to know this about the flick but apparently it had the ickiest promo campaign ever:

    http://ontd-science.livejournal.com/282361.html

    (Billboards under glass with lettering made from culture medium and innoculated with bacterial strains that recreate the colours of the logo… urge to hand-wash down to the bone rising, rising…)

    — Steve

  30. #30 Todd W.
    September 13, 2011

    @Anton P. Nym

    That is both disturbing and awesome. What a great idea.

  31. #31 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    September 13, 2011

    So apparently Tolkien placed explosive charges during construction,

    You neglect the significance of the appearance of the Winged Nazgûl. The whole conspiracy is right there! Even the names of the hijackers can be found by rearranging the letters on pages 1-120!

    OK, I’ll stop now.

  32. #32 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    September 13, 2011

    Have a care, Number Ate. While I can’t speak for wintermute (whom I believe to be a fine, upstanding individual), I don’t need to crib my Tolkein numerology off of anybody.

    I make that stuff up all by my self.

  33. #33 GregH
    September 13, 2011

    @12: Lilady,

    “breaking my long term (eons,it seems) personal policy of not sitting in a movie theater.”

    Have you seen the seats in those theatres? Thats where contagion comes from – I’m staying home until it’s on ppv! ;-)

  34. #34 Number 42
    September 13, 2011

    Hey, that poor little fellow got eat. What happened to Number Ate?

  35. #35 Roadstergal
    September 13, 2011

    OMG, it’s the Tolkien Code!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BfQDpARIC4

    (Sorry for the subtitles – oddly enough, it’s the only version of this on YouTube…)

  36. #36 lilady
    September 13, 2011

    @ GregH: I haven’t been in a movie theater in years and not just because of the seats. Years ago, when the summer blockbuster for kiddies came out, the mommies would load the kids into cars and “endure” throughout the movie.

    I read the movie review at Slate…thanks for the link, Brian.
    The reviewer took note of the doctor who explained what a “fomite” is to the senior staff at the health department…another reason for not going to the theater…I’m sure I will be critiquing other parts of the movie for accuracy and for the real life workings of a public health department, as well.

    Besides the obvious of avoiding enclosed theaters without any air circulation, I recall the small movie theater in Brooklyn where I grew up. It was so grungy we called it “The Itch”.

  37. #37 The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    September 13, 2011

    And “Tolkien” is an anglicization of the German tollkühn—”reckless, foolhardy”. Which means…well…something! Callous Disregard, maybe? Connect the dots, sheeple!

  38. #38 Joseph Hertzlinger
    September 13, 2011

    When are they making a pro-nuclear movie?

  39. #39 DW
    September 13, 2011

    @ Mephistopheles O’Brien:

    You do know of course that “Sauron” can be loosely translated as “Uppity Lizard” ( from AS “on” + Gr “saur”) thus pointing obviously to the Lizard King (MrMoJoRising) and our very own Lord Draconis, both of whose influences have been very keenly felt around these parts. Need I say more?

  40. #40 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    September 13, 2011

    DW – ’nuff said. A nod’s as good as a wink to a blind bat.

  41. #41 Yojimbo
    September 13, 2011

    Say no more!

  42. #42 Jenora Feuer
    September 13, 2011

    Haven’t seen the movie yet myself, but I’m told that a passage of the movie’s version of ‘Typhoid Mary’ through the Lester B. Pearson airport in Toronto is involved.

    Having lived in Toronto back when SARS came though back in 2003, I hear odd echos in some of the comments here, about hyper-awareness of coughs. I remember coughing once in a bus lineup during the outbreak, and within a couple of seconds a young woman who had been standing next to me had relocated herself to put five people between the two of us. Never mind that if I had been contagious, that was far too late to do anything…

  43. #43 lilady
    September 13, 2011

    Sorry to interrupt this great discussion. I located the Michele Bachmann *infamous* video “Bachmann attacks HPV vaccine” and Dr. Nancy Snyderman’s excellent report on HPV vaccine safety at:

    video:msnbc.com

    *Bachmann stated last night at the Tea Party’s sponsored debate for the Republican candidates that she “spoke to a mother, who’s young daughter got the HPV vaccine and right after she became mentally retarded”.

  44. #44 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    September 13, 2011

    lilady – is that like the man who took one puff of a marijuana cigarette, and ax murdered his entire family?
    - Reefer Madness

  45. #45 herr doktor bimler
    September 13, 2011

    With Bachmann adopting the “vaccines cause autism” fantasy into her family of science denialism causes, this sounds like a classic example of crank magnetism.

    But I was wondering whether there is a better explanation, in the form of cognitive-dissonance reduction at work.
    That is, the same heuristic that causes her to disbelieve the evidence for climate change (to be compatible with her intention of not doing anything about climate change) is independently leading her to the conclusion that vaccines must be toxic (to be compatible with her ideological opposition to public-health initiatives).

  46. #46 Roadstergal
    September 13, 2011

    This Bachmann/HPV video?

    http://www.bing.com/videos/watch/video/bachmann-makes-questionable-hpv-statements/6lwbyy8?from=

    I like his signoff. I had so many reasons to never take her seriously ever again already…

  47. #47 Trish Gannon
    September 13, 2011

    Glad to hear so many good comments about Contagion as I was hugely disappointed in the movie. Maybe my expectations were too high given that Laurie Garrett is one of my favorite writers, and she helped to write the script (it’s not ‘based’ on one of her books, which are non-fiction).

    As my daughter put it, the movie had “all the elements of a great movie gathered together like a light bulb that was then dropped off the top of a building.”

    I felt like Jude Law’s character was portrayed too lightly – those who tend toward that type of mentality will not leave the theater swayed in the slightest, as he could be seen as legit with the right eyes. (And I’m talking about the teachable middle here.)

    I didn’t like in the movie that there were no nurses available as the nurses had gone on strike. Prejudice, maybe, but it sure seems to me that when there’s something to be dealt with, the nurses have almost always been right there on the front lines. And the doctor played by Kate Winslet… would she really have been as unprotected as she was so often? (No gloves, no mask…)

    Although it could have been a political appointee, the character who asked “who’s going to pay” was portrayed as being a part of the Minnesota Dept. of Public Health – again, they have been head and shoulders above on these issues. Couldn’t that line have been given by someone who didn’t appear to be connected with them?

    Nit picking, but the Matt Damon character… I mean, you have a situation where the country’s under marshal law, there’s rioting in the streets, people are lining up to get not very available MREs… and he’s keeping his kid in lock down, but their electric is on and he can apparently still pay his cell phone bill ’cause the kid is texting all the time. Just doesn’t seem very realistic to me

    I think they could have done a better job in showing how easily flu is transmitted as well… I talked to some people in the theater who didn’t even realize that was the purpose of some of the beginning scenes.

    I have heard from a few people, however, who were creeped out after the movie and didn’t want to touch public surfaces… so maybe it will get the message out.

    And one really good line: (some army guy): “Could someone have weaponized bird flu?” (CDC guy): “No one has to. The birds are already doing it.”

  48. #48 Chris
    September 13, 2011

    Trish Gannon:

    Although it could have been a political appointee, the character who asked “who’s going to pay” was portrayed as being a part of the Minnesota Dept. of Public Health – again, they have been head and shoulders above on these issues. Couldn’t that line have been given by someone who didn’t appear to be connected with them?

    Check out the reaction from my state’s Secretary of Health:

    “That’s when my eyes rolled. That’s when I literally and verbally groaned in the movie,” she said.

  49. #49 lilady
    September 13, 2011

    @ Roadstergel: Yes, that’s the clip of Bachmann and thanks to the link to the Bashir commentary. Dr. Philips did a commendable job of debunking vaccine myths. However, I was delighted when Philips left the local news NBC affiliate as she was always putting alternative medicine stories “out there”. I found myself constantly commenting on the NBC website about Philips and her junk science stories.

    You can see Dr. Nancy Snyderman’s commentary on this evening’s NBC Evening News by scrolling beneath the screen on the link you provided and keying in:

    Snyderman: HPV vaccine has good safety track record

    We recorded the entire 2-hour debate from CNN…and last week’s debate as well. Apparently CNN will be broadcasting each of the scheduled debates with the eight declared Republican candidates from here on.

    You guys outside of the U.S. must be enjoying this political circus as we are here. Each of the candidates are characters and even “moderates” are now pandering to the fringe Tea Party gang.

  50. #50 mikmik
    September 13, 2011

    Don’t you people see? Did you miss the part where the doc says, “The birds are mutating the virus”? Alfred Hitchcock and Hollywood are in cahoots with the birds, they are psychologically preparing us to the coming dual pronged attack of biological war/air force led assault! The birds, it’s the birds, my god, can’t you people seeeee……….

  51. #51 Militant Agnostic
    September 13, 2011

    Bachmann stated last night at the Tea Party’s sponsored debate for the Republican candidates that she “spoke to a mother, who’s young daughter got the HPV vaccine and right after she became mentally retarded”.

    Wrong – Bachmann has always been mentally retarded.

  52. #52 rszasz
    September 13, 2011

    Glad I found something to do while having my car serviced. I’m sure there are other realistic medical dramas, but this is probably the best ones I’ve seen.

    Trish Gannon: They did show a hospital, with nurses later in the movie, though they never resolved that point in particular. Then again, they never did resolve who was paying for the efforts.

    Water, and power might be able to be handled by a few people sequestered, or had been exposed and survived. Trash, police, firefighting, that all involves getting close to other people, keeping the lights and water on may not. I wonder if anyone from those industries can comment on what they think would happen in a contagion type scenario. If the power went out, would the gas stay on? more importantly, would the sewers back up?

  53. #53 WMDKitty
    September 14, 2011

    It’s going on my Netflix queue.

  54. #54 D. Wu
    September 14, 2011

    @WMDKitty and all others who might wait until it comes out on Netflix. If you want more movies like this made – movies with a higher grounding in hard science and reality, you’ve got to go watch it now. I know, movies cost to much but studies are going to initially consider only box office takings.

  55. #55 adelady
    September 14, 2011

    Well, goody. We’ve still got a few of the free movie passes one daughter gave us. That’s another two gone.

  56. #56 Reuben
    September 14, 2011

    I wonder who the blogger is modeled after? We have lots of candidates, I’m sure.

    Mercola is at the top of my list, closely followed by the “Health Ranger”.

  57. #57 attack_laurel
    September 14, 2011

    As soon as we were out of the theater, I explained about Mike Adams to my husband, and we both went “yup”. I really liked the movie because it didn’t follow any of the usual “Outbreak” tropes. It was great fun, and I’m getting it on DVD when it comes out.

    I also thought it dealt really well with the way the public reacts – yes, some go bad, but some don’t. The majority panic, but it all settles down after a while. I am glad I live in the country, though.

  58. #58 HealthEd
    September 14, 2011

    Just a thought regarding the Ethan Huff piece Orac cites: If this conspiracy exists (whether it goes back to Tolkien, or just the mid-1990s), why warn us about it?

    That said, I’m chomping at the bit to see this movie! Having had the privilege to visit the actual CDC biohazard labs last year, I’m dying to see how the movie portrays them.

  59. #59 dt
    September 14, 2011

    Here is what Paul Offit has to say about the movie:

    http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/749482?src=mp&spon=3

  60. #60 dt
    September 14, 2011

    The CDC responds to Contagion:
    http://www.cdc.gov/24-7/contagion/

  61. #61 kiki
    September 14, 2011

    The movie Contagion, as well as numerous others in recent years including the 1995 movie Outbreak and the 2009 movie 2012

    The first part of this sentence really made me lol for some reason – it just sounded like somebody railing against modern pop bands and then citing ELO and the Bay City Rollers as examples.

    As for the second part, I’ve seen 2012, and the threat in it isn’t from a virus. It was a spectacularly forgettable film, but from what I can remember the existential menace facing humanity seemed to involve everything in the world exploding in slow motion.

  62. #62 lilady
    September 14, 2011

    @ dt: Thanks for both links. Dr. Offit’s video was extraordinary…and I love his comments about Sanjay Gupta’s permitting alternative/complementary “practitioners” to appear on camera…all for the sake of showing “both sides”.

  63. #63 Judy
    September 14, 2011

    Reading this post and the SANE comments in response was refreshing. I’ve been shocked by the amount of 9/11 Truthers and anti-vaxers among my own Facebook friends, not to mention what I read in comments to news articles around the Web. From now on, when I’m ready to throw in the towel I’ll come over here and hang out with you guys!

  64. #64 robb
    September 15, 2011

    “..the 1995 movie Outbreak and the 2009 movie 2012..”

    there is a 9 and a 1 in 1995, and another 1 in 2012: together you get 911!!!

    also 2012 minus 1995 is 17, which is a prime number. 911 is ALSO a prime number!!

    still more: take 1995 and 2012 and add all the digits 1+9+9+5+2+0+1+2=29. then notice 2=1+1, so 29 is really 119 which is 911 reveresed!!11!1!!!!1!!!!1

    COINCIDENCE? I THINK NOT!!11!!!!!!

  65. #65 Rogue Epidemiologist
    September 15, 2011

    My colleagues and I are going to see ‘Contagion’ tonight. We are all very excited. I, for one, am hoping this movie becomes one of those things that bring my profession out of obscurity for laypeople. I’m so tired of the puzzled looks, and the, “oh, you’re a skin doctor!” comments.

    Sorry if I’m talking rehash, but I couldn’t let myself read the comments thread because I’m trying really hard to avoid spoilers.

  66. #66 rob
    September 16, 2011

    @Rogue Epidemiologist:

    **spoiler alert**

    Darth Vader is Luke’s dad.

  67. #67 DLC
    September 16, 2011

    Oh sure… but didn’t any of you even notice that ORAC is 15+18+1+3 = 37, 3+7 =10 and 10+901 = 911 ?
    2011, 100 years after 1911, the year the Colt 45 model 1911 was first manufactured? ORAC’s part of the Conspiracy, I tell you!

  68. #68 rob
    September 16, 2011

    DLC: *and* Orac kicks puppies!

  69. #69 Charles Frith
    September 17, 2011

    Let me recap this article “I don’t have time in my busy life for more than work and the bare essentials which could never cover the bare essentials of conspiracy. I’m still going to write about it using insults at every opportunity to cover my hamster life performing tricks for a machine I haven’t figured out.

    As an aside predictive programming doesn’t have a definitive explanation so there’s no obligation to make one up. That’s the theory part of conspiracy unless on is so sold out and sold in to a system they can’t question.

  70. #70 Antaeus Feldspar
    September 17, 2011

    Let me recap your recap, Charles: “I have no actual evidence to support my unfalsifiable conspiracy theories, so instead I will use the Emperor’s New Clothes gambit and accuse you of being brainwashed sheeple if you don’t agree with me. That is why I cannot point to even a single thing in your article which is actually wrong, I will simply accuse you of not being able to see some ‘big picture’ that I cannot actually see either but only put paranoid faith in.”

  71. #71 Chris
    September 17, 2011

    Did the Mr. Frith identify too well with the Alan Krumwiede character?

  72. #72 Julian Frost
    September 18, 2011

    I went to see “Crazy, Stupid Love” last night. “Contagion” was one of the films advertised. I’ll go and see it when it’s released in South Africa, which should be in a few weeks time.

  73. #73 Ethan
    February 8, 2012

    Not only would Michael Bay have had to be in on a massive conspiracy to bring down the World Trade Center towers on 9/11, but that conspiracy would have to be so huge that it encompasses virtually everything, including Hollywood, to the point that it would insinuate itself into a silly big budget action movie made more than three years before the terrorist attacks

    Why?

  74. #74 Narad
    February 8, 2012

    Googling yourself, Ethan?

  75. #75 Witch
    March 5, 2012

    Vaccine technology is based on antibodies. Vaccines target adaptive immunity, by injecting antigens and causing an immune response (antibodies). But the human immune system is far more complex than the average doctor has been trained to believe.

    This study states that another part of the immune system (innate immunity) eliminates viral infections using macrophages, not antibodies. The obsession with vaccine-induced antibodies by doctors and health officials betrays their misunderstanding of the complexity of the marvelous human immune system.

    Antibodies Are Not Required for Immunity Against Some Viruses

    ScienceDaily (Mar. 1, 2012) — A new study turns the well established theory that antibodies are required for antiviral immunity upside down and reveals that an unexpected partnership between the specific and non-specific divisions of the immune system is critical for fighting some types of viral infections. The research, published online on March 1st in the journal Immunity by Cell Press, may lead to a new understanding of the best way to help protect those exposed to potentially lethal viruses, such as the rabies virus.

    http://therefusers.com/refusers-newsroom/antibodies-are-not-required-for-immunity-against-some-viruses-science-daily/

  76. #76 Witch
    March 5, 2012

    Vaccine technology is based on antibodies. Vaccines target adaptive immunity, by injecting antigens and causing an immune response (antibodies). But the human immune system is far more complex than the average doctor has been trained to believe.

    This study states that another part of the immune system (innate immunity) eliminates viral infections using macrophages, not antibodies. The obsession with vaccine-induced antibodies by doctors and health officials betrays their misunderstanding of the complexity of the marvelous human immune system.

    Antibodies Are Not Required for Immunity Against Some Viruses

    ScienceDaily (Mar. 1, 2012) — A new study turns the well established theory that antibodies are required for antiviral immunity upside down and reveals that an unexpected partnership between the specific and non-specific divisions of the immune system is critical for fighting some types of viral infections. The research, published online on March 1st in the journal Immunity by Cell Press, may lead to a new understanding of the best way to help protect those exposed to potentially lethal viruses, such as the rabies virus.

    http://therefusers.com/refusers-newsroom/antibodies-are-not-required-for-immunity-against-some-viruses-science-daily/

  77. #77 Julian Frost
    March 5, 2012

    Firstly, Witch, putting a comment on a six month old thread with its newest previous comment over a month old is known as necromancy, and is regarded as bad form.
    Secondly, I don’t think your source is the reliable, accurate source you think it is.

  78. #78 W. Kevin Vicklund
    March 5, 2012

    As I addressed in the other thread Witch spammed, this is nothing new, just special circumstances.

  79. #79 Prometheus
    March 5, 2012

    What “Witch” doesn’t appear to understand is that the innate immune system, while it is capable of eliminating a large portion of potential pathogens, is clearly not adequate to prevent any of the common contagious diseases. If it were, these contagious diseases wouldn’t be common – and they wouldn’t be contagious.

    Think about it. The innate immune system has been with us humans for over 200,000 years (probably even longer, if you count its likely presence in other sub-species of the genus Homo). During that time, humans were susceptible to a large number of diseases that are now no longer common, such as measles (although it is making a comeback, thanks to a few irresponsible doctors), smallpox, etc.

    It was only after the introduction of vaccines, which prepare the adaptive immune system in advance of the “real” pathogen, that these diseases were brought under control. So, if the innate immune system was able to prevent the “vaccine-preventable diseases”, why was it that we needed to develop vaccines in the first place?

    It’s just another example of the sloppy thinking (or no thinking at all) we repeatedly see from people who parrot back what they read on Internet conspiracy sites.

    Prometheus

  80. #80 Antaeus Feldspar
    March 5, 2012

    Witch’s argument (or, to be accurate, The Refusers’ argument that Witch has been cutting-and-pasting to multiple threads in lieu of honest discussion) is in fact closely related to another fallacious argument we’re familiar with – the “rates of such-and-such disease went down before a vaccine for it was developed” argument.

    Both arguments depend upon an unstated premise, which occupies position number 2 in the diagram below:

    1) A medical success, of some nature, was achieved without the use of vaccines.
    2) (unstated)
    3) Therefore there are no situations for which we do need vaccines to achieve our medical goals of minimized death, injury and misery.

    Of course, it doesn’t take long to see that no sensible premise can go in 2 to make a sound syllogism. It doesn’t begin to make sense. Do we reject all the benefits of motorized transport because once upon a time, we managed to meet (some) of our transport needs without it? I can’t imagine any antivaccine crusader endorsing such logic, but it’s the same logic that underlies both the “deaths from some diseases declined before vaccines, therefore we don’t need vaccines” and “innate immunity can handle some viruses, therefore we don’t need vaccines” arguments.

  81. #81 Prometheus
    March 6, 2012

    Master Feldspar,

    It is even worse than that. Those viruses (and other pathogens) -the ones that the innate immune system deals with so well that the adaptive immune system is not needed – were never (at least, not in recorded history) causes of large outbreaks or epidemics. Also, the innate immune system can often “deal with” small number of pathogenic organisms yet be overwhelmed by a larger “inoculum”.

    Anyone who claims that vaccines aren’t needed because of the efficacy of the innate immune system is simply not thinking it through. If the innate immune system was able to “handle” an organism, that organism wouldn’t be a pathogen and – thus – wouldn’t be a target for a vaccine.

    Are these people truly this mind-numbingly dense? (Rhetorical question: the answer is “yes”.)

    Prometheus

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