Friday, March 17, 2017

The Relationship of Empathy and Infectious Disease Outbreaks - Science

In this case, the empathic drives under study are those of infected people in terms of their willingness to risk infecting others while their infection lasts.  The study reviewed the behavior of people suffering from influenza relative to those who had not been infected and were the susceptible population.  (Science Daily:  Empathy from the sick may be critical to halting disease outbreaks)

That's a conclusion from researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who used a networked variation of game theory to study how individual behavior during an outbreak of influenza -- or other illness -- affects the progress of the disease, including how rapidly the outbreak dies out.

The research study pitted the self-interests of susceptible individuals against those of infected persons, and found that only if sick persons took precautions to avoid infecting others could the illness be eradicated.  Healthy people attempting to protect themselves couldn't, by themselves, stop the disease from spreading.  Among the key factors was empathy of infected persons.

- SD

Relax on a lament about the hippies were empathic but that's dying out and all hope is lost.  I don't know that hippies were all that much more empathic than others but we were really good at concerts.


The empathy of sick persons becomes especially important toward the end of an outbreak, when the number of infected persons may be low, but still enough to sustain the illness. When the number of sick people is low, risk perception falls, leading susceptible people to reduce their precautions -- and sick people to feel less concern about infecting others.

If those sick persons then decide to head off to work despite their illness, they may infect unsuspecting susceptible people, causing the outbreak to continue. "The behavior of the infected individuals can be more important than the behavior of the susceptible individuals in eradicating the disease," said Eksin. "A little bit of empathy can be crucial at this point."

- SD

The part is talking directly about 'workplace heroes' who go to work when they're sick to show the boss how much they're willing to suffer for Jesus ... or some damn thing.  Unknown why those suck asses do it but, as you see, they're the ones who keep an outbreak alive.

Ed:  they can't afford to take time off!

That means the sick time went for something else and just why are you sick all the time?


Stand back since this is where it starts getting weird.

"In a connected network, everyone's activities can affect you in one way or another," Eksin said. "If your sick neighbors decide to isolate themselves, then you don't need to take any action to protect yourself against them. But you don't necessarily know what your neighbors are doing, and their actions may well be affected by what others are doing. The effect can cascade."

While calculating such interactions could be intractable from a computing standpoint, the authors introduced an algorithm based on game theoretic concepts that allows a logical resolution. "Our analysis provides a principled response to recent calls to integrate game theory with disease dynamics to understand how individuals should act in response to disease development."

- SD

It looks like you may need to be a 'human computer' to keep up with this lot.  (Ithaka:  NASA: In 1955, Annie Easley Was Way Ahead of Her Time)

Note:  I'm kind of in awe of Annie Easley since I had never heard of 'human computers' previously.


Read the article for the fulness of it but this is the punchline from the scientists:

"We need to champion the benefits of empathy by sick individuals to eradicate disease in the community."

- SD

Stay home, damn it!  We don't want your disease!  You are not being heroic, you are being an asshole by coming to work, coughing, and blowing your nasty shit all over the place.  Stay the hell home!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

blow the heLl do you blow up workplace heroes when you would gob to work sick as hell because of your locality to keeping the machine running because only you can do what you do

Peas InOurThyme said...

I'll lay that problem directly at the feet of the manager who failed to ensure there were sufficient people to keep the machine healthy even when all of his people were not.

I'm thinking of tagging part-time jobs with spreading disease since those workers can't afford to take time off and I don't think they have any sick time benefits.

Anonymous said...

On this I call BS. You would go to work like that when you were the boss

Anonymous said...

PS as a person who hired and managed thousands of part timers. They had no problem calling in sick mostly on Sunny weekendside sick or not

Peas InOurThyme said...

My favorite was one character who called in sometimes with 'a touch of the flu' and he would be in the next day. I let it slide with only the thought of don't get any grass stains on yer shoes at the golf course.

I don't see the attendance of the boss as obviating the point since he/she knows he's infectious but he/she shelves that because 'the work is too important,' 'my job is vital,' etc, etc. When he/she knows but does it anyway then I need to find what justifies it and the idea of reduced empathy in such a person doesn't seem so surprising. That logic is seriously flawed in thinking 'I have to be at work even though I know there's a strong chance I will cause illness by doing that.'

Anonymous said...

If you are sick stay home
I dont need the illness

Peas InOurThyme said...

Hear, hear!