Bill Maher on virus-shaming

Sadly, Bill Maher’s live show is defunct for the time being, and his monologues lose a bit with the absence of audience reactions. Still, here’s his latest take on “virus-shaming”: the misplaced rancor of the Offense Brigade about the virus’s name. Like Andrew Sullivan, Maher is hard on China for the country’s policies that promoted the spread of the virus.

It is curious, but perhaps a sign of the times, that we’re being told in no uncertain terms that we can’t call this the “Wuhan virus”, when nobody had any problems with stuff like “Spanish flu” (a term we still use) or “Lyme disease.” Perhaps the times have changed for the better in this respect, and I don’t like the term “Chinese virus” as used by Trump, who is a xenophobe and racist, but “Wuhan virus”? Who cares? As Maher says, we have bigger fish to fry.


  1. pablo
    Posted April 12, 2020 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Putting on my tinfoil hat here, but it wouldn’t surprise me if this weren’t a coordinated campaign from the Xi government.

    • GBJames
      Posted April 12, 2020 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      The virus?

      • pablo
        Posted April 12, 2020 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

        No but the effort to disassociate the virus from China. Hence calling it the China virus or Wuhan virus is racist.

  2. Posted April 12, 2020 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    I side with Bill Maher on this one. AFAIK, there is a tradition of naming viruses after their places of origin. Was there a meeting of epidemiologists that decided against doing this, much like the astronomers decided that Pluto isn’t a planet?

    Of course, Trump calling it “Chinese virus” is a whole other kettle of fish. We know his motivation is about blaming others in order to minimize his own responsibility and culpability, especially when it is immigration-adjacent. I am sure he considered calling it “the Wuhan virus” but felt that it wasn’t strong enough, or just thought no one knows where Wuhan is.

    • dallos
      Posted April 13, 2020 at 12:47 am | Permalink

      “To maintain morale, World War I censors minimized early reports of illness and mortality in Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States. Newspapers were free to report the epidemic’s effects in neutral Spain, such as the grave illness of King Alfonso XIII, and these stories created a false impression of Spain as especially hard hit. This gave rise to the name Spanish flu. Historical and epidemiological data are inadequate to identify with certainty the pandemic’s geographic origin, with varying views as to its location.”

      • Posted April 13, 2020 at 9:28 am | Permalink

        Interesting history. Thanks. Lesson: Words matter!

  3. Mike Mayer
    Posted April 12, 2020 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    I think the WHO changed their naming rules to not include regional names a few years ago.

    But of course that might be at the behest of China since China knows that they are the source of many viruses.

    • FA
      Posted April 12, 2020 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

      This seems like the strongest argument to call it the Chinese Virus. Something like 80% of new flulike viruses have originated in China over the past half century. If SARS had been called ‘Chinese Flu’ or something similar, China would have been far more motivated to improve sanitation and bio security and we may not even be in this state. I understand the motivation for attempting to avoid blame, but, like all SocJus corruption of language, it hides reality and may now even have cost lives.

      • Jonathan Wallace
        Posted April 13, 2020 at 5:30 am | Permalink

        On the other hand if 80% of the new flu-like viruses have really originated in China over the past half century it might get a little confusing if we named them all after the country of origin.

  4. Posted April 12, 2020 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    How about those German measles?

    • Another Tom
      Posted April 12, 2020 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      You mean Rubella?

      • Posted April 12, 2020 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

        Yes. A disease first described by German physicians around 1800, hence the designation “German” measles.

        • Posted April 12, 2020 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

          I can see the problem though. When I was a kid, I thought germans measles was something you caught from germans, so I avoided any german kids in the class. And even now, Chinese Americans have been shouted at and even spat on as the cause of coronavirus.

          • tomh
            Posted April 12, 2020 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

            Exactly right, that’s the problem. And calling it ‘Wuhan’ is no different, everyone knows that just means Chinese.

            • Posted April 12, 2020 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

              It does make a difference. Calling it “Wuhan virus” sounds like it is just following the convention of naming a disease on its place of origin. People who want to turn it into an anti-immigrant or anti-Chinese statement aren’t satisfied with that and feel the need to make it easier to identify and broaden its target. I don’t think anyone was calling it “Chinese virus” until Trump started doing it. He’s fairly transparent regarding his motives.

              • tomh
                Posted April 12, 2020 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

                It’s exactly the same, Wuhan=Chinese. And it’s BS that the convention is the point of origin. There is no way of knowing the point of origin of most diseases. The only reason to call it Wuhan or Chinese is racism, pure and simple. It’s proven by the number of people who use it to take it out on Chinese people here in the US. And Maher just feeds into that, giving racists plenty of cover.

              • Posted April 12, 2020 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

                It can be used for racist purposes. That was my point. Renaming it “Chinese virus” from any other name is probably motivated by racism. If one wants to dispute that the virus started in Wuhan, that’s a different discussion. While either name, Chinese or Wuhan, can be used for racist reasons, it does still matter where the first human infection occurred, right? This is Bill Maher’s point, not to give cover to racists.

              • tomh
                Posted April 12, 2020 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

                Whatever Maher’s point is, which seems to be that blaming the Chinese will make everything better, the result is that Chinese-Americans are bearing the brunt of the blame here in the US, in very ugly ways. Trump uses the term to deflect blame from his own bungling response. I’m not sure why Maher thinks it’s so important to label it so.

              • Posted April 13, 2020 at 9:26 am | Permalink

                I think Bill Maher is just railing against the PC police.

  5. merilee
    Posted April 12, 2020 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    I caught the Hong Kong flu in early 1969 while traveling through France and was stuck in Lyon for a week in a small hotel whose owner would not give me ice for my high fever (my travel mate had to go to the local cafe for that) and the local doc came and gave me all kinds of meds in “ampoules”. (Outside Geneva a neighbor at our motel offered us suppositories for our coughs.) i virtually never get colds or flus, but I somehow caught this a few weeks after leaving California.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted April 12, 2020 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      An ethno-cultural stereotype, I know, but it seems that with the French, anything that ails one can be cured with a suppository. Is it simply speed of delivery or does this hearken to some sort of anal fixation or both?

      • merilee
        Posted April 12, 2020 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

        I know, and I have no idea. I was NOT going to take a suppository from a stranger😂😖

        • Jenny Haniver
          Posted April 12, 2020 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

          Yes, I well remember my mother warning me never to take candy or a suppository from a stranger.

          • merilee
            Posted April 12, 2020 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

            🤣and always wear clean undies in case you get into an accident.
            actually my mother was not one for those kinds of sayings…

            • Posted April 13, 2020 at 3:20 am | Permalink

              Or use safety pins to close rips in your underwear.

              • Jenny Haniver
                Posted April 13, 2020 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

                Ouch! My objection would be not so much as to be found dead with safety pins in one’s underwear but if one that was keeping your drawers together came unpinned, you could be in for some very unpleasant butt pricks.

              • merilee
                Posted April 13, 2020 at 1:47 pm | Permalink


            • Jenny Haniver
              Posted April 13, 2020 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

              My mother wasn’t either, and I used to wonder why because that seemed like one of those old saws that “everybody’s” parents told their children and why didn’t my parents? They weren’t into old saws, and they also didn’t tell me about god and I used to wonder why, since everybody else’s parents taught them about god and the Bible or Buddha or something/someone divine. Didn’t realize then just how fortunate I was on both counts.

              • merilee
                Posted April 13, 2020 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

                Me, too, on both counts (though my mother was fairly big on what was considered “ladylike”.)

      • BJ
        Posted April 12, 2020 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

        That’s so strange! I had no idea. I wonder if it’s less about their willingness to put medicine up their butts and more about our perhaps Puritan revulsion at the idea. Shoving it where the sun don’t shine is, after all, the best method of absorption. If I’m remembering correctly, about 95% of a substance gets absorbed when administered the “French way,” as opposed to other methods, which result in much slower and lower rates of absorption.

        • Rita Prangle
          Posted April 12, 2020 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

          It’s also useful if your problem is uncontrolled vomiting, the medicine to stop it must be administered rectally.

          • Jenny Haniver
            Posted April 13, 2020 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

            Not so good, though, for diarrhoea.

      • JezGrove
        Posted April 12, 2020 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

        It’s not just the French; the Italians (and I believe the Spanish, too) also prescribe high levels of suppositories.

      • JezGrove
        Posted April 12, 2020 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

        Italians also suffer from illnesses that the English are impervious to:

        • JezGrove
          Posted April 12, 2020 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

          Ditto the French. Anyone here ever suffered from “heavy legs”?

          • Jenny Haniver
            Posted April 12, 2020 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

            Those links are quite amusing.

            • merilee
              Posted April 12, 2020 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

              Hilarious. Don’t the French (and possibly A
              ustrians) blame a lot on the liver? Ahh, la foie.

            • merilee
              Posted April 12, 2020 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

              Hilarious. Don’t the French (and possibly A
              ustrians) blame a lot on the liver? Ahh, la foie.

  6. Posted April 12, 2020 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t the mainstream media call it all of those names until Trump did, and suddenly it became verboten? I like Trump about as far as I can throw him, but the knee-jerk attached to the guy is breathtaking.

  7. tomh
    Posted April 12, 2020 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    “there is a tradition of naming viruses after their places of origin”

    It may have been a tradition at one time, but it was usually wrong. Spanish Flu almost certainly didn’t originate in Spain, but as one of the few countries to remain neutral in WWI, the media in Spain was free to report on it and was the first to do so. Wartime countries were censoring the news of it in order to not affect morale. There are several likely candidates for the origin of Spanish Flu, with Kansas being among the most likely.

  8. Another Tom
    Posted April 12, 2020 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    The Spanish Flu is called the Spanish Flu because Spain wasn’t censoring news about it like other countries at the time. What people are doing by calling COVID-19 the Chinese virus is different.

  9. max blancke
    Posted April 12, 2020 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    If you go to the McDonalds in Guangzhou today, you would be confronted with a sign that reads in part “From now on black people will not be allowed to enter the restaurant…”
    The CCP has successfully spread the message that the virus is spread by dirty foreigners.

    I wish the left were half as critical of China as they are of the US. Almost all of the crap we are criticized of doing in previous centuries China is doing today. including brutal colonization, large-scale persecution of ethnic and religious minorities, and mass executions.

  10. Peterdvm
    Posted April 12, 2020 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    I have to admit that giving a hoot about an anti-vaccine germ theory questioning crank is not high on my list. Bill Maher is about a third as smart as he thinks he is.

    • tomh
      Posted April 12, 2020 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      When there is finally a vaccine for Covid-19, a lot of anti-vaxxers will be singing a different tune.

      • Posted April 12, 2020 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

        Like on nearly every issue, Trump sings whatever tune that might get him votes:

        Donald J. Trump – from 2014


        Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn’t feel good and changes – AUTISM. Many such cases!

        • Posted April 12, 2020 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

          That one ought to lose him votes. It’s sad that it didn’t.

          • Posted April 12, 2020 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

            Indeed. There is a good reason why Trump proclaimed “I love the poorly educated.” I took this to mean that regardless of the level of education one has achieved, poorly educated folks would not be able to differentiate between his truths [rare] and his lies [abundant]. His latest bullshit whistle for the poorly educated is that mail balloting is rife with fraud and is beneficial to Democrats. That claim is obviously data free. In Colorado where we have had mail only ballots for at least 6 years, the Republican voting increase was slightly greater than the Democrat, and the state [sadly] elected Cory Gardner to the Senate, displacing a reasonable Democrat, Mark Udall.

      • Posted April 13, 2020 at 9:19 am | Permalink

        I don’t think so. I think many of them will refuse the coronavirus vaccine.

        • Posted April 13, 2020 at 10:56 am | Permalink

          I agree. They will once again rely on herd immunity to minimize their risk of infection.

  11. ploubere
    Posted April 12, 2020 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Well, the context is important. Trump and the repubs are calling it Chinese to deflect blame from their own incompetence, not to be geographically correct.

    And the blame is misplaced. While the Chinese did suppress information for a month, by early January they alerted WHO and shared the virus data with other countries. The US had it by then but did nothing with it.

    My wife is a Hong Kong native, and we live in a red state. I worry about her now, with these dumb Trumpers blaming anybody with Asian appearance.

    That’s the problem with calling it the Chinese virus.

    • max blancke
      Posted April 12, 2020 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      My understanding is that as late as 20 January, Chinese officials were still saying that the possibility of human to human transmission was limited.
      This after fairly clear evidence of that type of transmission was known as of mid-December.

      According to the Lancet, by 21 December, there were laboratory-confirmed Covid patients hospitalized who had no connection to the wet market, but waited 34 days before implementing the quarantine.

      But the real horror to me is that CCP authorities allowed the 40K family banquet to proceed on 1/18, and for something like 5 million people to leave the Wuhan area for New Years holidays and to flee the outbreak prior to enacting the quarantine on 24 January.
      Patient zero in the US arrived from Wuhan on 1/19. The first two cases in Singapore left Wuhan on 1/19 as well.

      • Dale
        Posted April 12, 2020 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

        January 23rd China shutdown Wuhan. Regardless of what they did or did not do before that date, that alone said this was going to be very bad and every government in the world at that point should have reacted, and very few did. Trump just delayed a lot longer than most others.

    • Mark R.
      Posted April 12, 2020 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

      I agree and had a discussion with max about it a few weeks ago. It’s not that calling it a “chinese virus” is racist or breaks historical protocol, it’s that Trump et al are using it to stir up racial tensions and blame. Very easy to see…it’s not the same as “Spanish flu” in Trump’s reality…he wants scapegoats, he needs scapegoats, and he will use this as such to gather cult support.

      • Posted April 13, 2020 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

        Agreed! You can almost see Trump’s lips curl in a sneer when he says, “Chinese virus.”

  12. dd
    Posted April 12, 2020 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    From a Guardian editorial….(or is it a news article?)

    “This pandemic is a creature of capitalist globalisation, not any single country. ‘Chinese culture’ is a convenient scapegoat”

    • Jonathan Wallace
      Posted April 13, 2020 at 6:13 am | Permalink

      (or is it a news article?)

      No it is in the section labelled ‘Opinion’. Fair enough to disagree with the opinions expressed in the article but what exactly is your motive in seeking to suggest that they are presented as a news article when they are clearly not?

  13. dd
    Posted April 12, 2020 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    From Forbes:

    “As people of color die from COVID-19 at a disproportionately higher rate, the importance of Black scientists is more critical than ever. U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams, acknowledged that Black Americans are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, due to health disparities and historic racism surrounding housing, education and employment.”

  14. Posted April 12, 2020 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    What’s in a name? — We mustn’t blame Gaucher for Gaucher’s disease, nor Tay and Sachs for that illness. Dr. Philippe Gaucher first described the former, and Drs. Warren Tay and Bernard Sachs first described the latter. Nobody blames the messenger.

    • ploubere
      Posted April 12, 2020 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

      Unfortunately lots of ignorant people blame the messenger.

  15. Steve Gerrard
    Posted April 12, 2020 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    “Who cares? As Maher says, we have bigger fish to fry.”

    Why, then, is Maher not busy frying those bigger fish, instead of picking this nit?

    • Roger
      Posted April 13, 2020 at 12:15 am | Permalink

      Because he’s an idiot. Case in point: It’s possible to fry fish of different sizes at the same time. No need to fry one fish at a time.

  16. Matthew
    Posted April 12, 2020 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    The term “Wuhan Virus” was largely promoted in the adminstration by Mike Pompeo, a major China Hawk. The explicit purpose was to shift blame. So it’s not surprising many object to this terminology.

    We also didn’t call H1N1 the Mexican or Texas Flu. And we certainly didn’t have commentators on Fox News blaming the disease on people in Texas eating pork sushi and exporting the disease to the civilized parts of the country.

  17. BJ
    Posted April 12, 2020 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    I think we should continue calling this the “Wuhan” or “Chinese” virus just to remind people of the high chance that the totalitarian government of China’s censorship and denial policies at least partially led to this pandemic. The world has become far too soft on China, treating it like a democratic nation rather than an Orwellian dictatorship where the government

    1. closely monitors citizens every move and internet click and denies them basic services based on their “social credit”;

    2. rounds up and imprisons as many Uighur people as possible and destroys their places of worship;

    3. props up the North Korean government;

    4. has an economic system based in large part on stealing the intellectual property and work of other people and nations through spying and stealing;

    5. produces, by far, the most greenhouse gasses of any nation, and regularly pollutes the areas of the country where the poor live for the benefit of those in the cities on a scale unknown to us in the Western world;

    6. and on and on. I don’t feel like listing more reasons.

    Oh, and that “social credit” system, for anyone that doesn’t know…well, here’s an example of just how bad it is, keeping citizens in constant fear that they might do something that affects their standing with the government, even things they never would have guessed would do so:

    For those who want a brief synopsis of the video above, it’s about a Chinese MMA fighter who decided to go around the country and prove that fake martial arts are, well, fake, by challenging supposed “masters” to fights and embarrassing them by beating their butts. The Chinese government deemed this an offense to Chinese culture because the fighter was taking on people who claimed to be masters in things like Tai Chi and, by showing their ineffectiveness, he was denigrating China’s history and culture. His social credit rating means that he can no longer fly, take high speed trains (or even buy anything but the lowest class ticket on a regular train)…you know, again, I don’t feel like listing all the things the government does to someone who’s just fighting in MMA matches against opponents the government likes. Here’s a partial list with far worse penalties:

    That article is from 2018. The social credit system is now nationwide and applies to all the people in the country. It can be affected by something as small as littering, clicking on the wrong webpage, or playing too many videogames. In addition to the things on those list, you can be kept from getting loans (or only able to get loans with terrible interest rates), basic government services, be publicly humiliated, etc.

    China is an increasingly Orwellian nightmare that is only strengthening its grip on its citizens. The world’s treatment of China isn’t “opening it up,” it’s simply normalizing China and, by extension, helping it become even more authoritarian by refusing to penalize it for or even call out its behavior.

    • Posted April 12, 2020 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      I agree with nearly everything you wrote, aside from calling it the “Chinese” virus. That has become an alt-right dog whistle. I think that “Wuhan Virus” is a reasonable alternative, but my personal choice is “CCP Virus” to put the blame squarely where it belongs.

      • BJ
        Posted April 12, 2020 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

        Good point. “CCP Virus” divorces it from any racial undertones and serves as a reminder of the CCP’s attempt to suppress information about it and allow people who they knew potentially had it to travel all over the world.

        • Posted April 12, 2020 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

          CCP always reminds me of CCCP which was in big letters on those rockets paraded through Red Square. I suspect most aren’t very familiar with CCP.

          I’m against using the name of the virus to make a political point. If you want to say that the Chinese Communist Party bungled the response, then just say it. It’s a fair point, IMHO, though I am sure our current administration would have bungled it at least as badly if the virus had started in the US.

  18. Roo
    Posted April 12, 2020 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    Regarding the exotic animal trade in wet markets – I’ve had the same thought as Maher. This is an authoritarian country that has acted in totalitarian ways before, but they seem somewhat hesitant on this topic. Especially strange because they seem to take their reputation as a trading partner on the world stage very seriously. When we ended up with accidentally poisoned pet food, they literally executed the director of their FDA (granted he committed other crimes, but the PR from that seemed to be when they actually cracked down).

    I don’t have much of a framework for Chinese culture. For example, I notice in the Western media they said that the failure to sound the alarm was because it’s taboo to shed light on anything that brings ‘shame’ in China; while I’ve seen commenters who I assume are Chinese say the government was trying to stop people from panicking and fleeing the city, thus spreading the disease everywhere. Both seem plausible. I don’t have an understanding of what drives actions like that – cultural taboos, fear of the one billion people (many of them young unmarried men, a traditional source of unrest), ‘passing the buck, I don’t want to be the one in trouble bureaucracy,’, etc. I also don’t know how Chinese people feel about their government – if they see it as a different (from ours) but relatively well-liked form of top-down government, if they really long for democracy but can’t say it, and so on. And I don’t know what role exotic animals have in Chinese culture – if it would be akin to the fur trade here (most would support shutting it down) or the beef industry here (realistically, even if we started a pandemic, the US wouldn’t stop producing hamburgers forever). I feel like I’m missing a lot of pieces in that picture. It does seem from the outside like not eating exotic animals should be a no brainer, open and shut situation – the fact that it apparently isn’t makes me think I must be missing something.

    • Posted April 12, 2020 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      It would make sense if the China required that all animals sold for pets or food be raised in conditions like most food animals are, rather than captured in the wild. Not sure that’s going to work for bats though.

      • Posted April 12, 2020 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

        As I understand it, the virus was not spread directly to humans by bats. It was spread by bats to pangolins, which spread it to humans. That is what I have read anyway.

        • Posted April 12, 2020 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

          Perhaps. Of course, we on this website know that this just leads to the question of where the pangolins got it. But seriously, if it started in the “wet markets” then it probably doesn’t matter which species we blame. If the bats were innocent this time, they may be the culprits next time. 😉

      • Roo
        Posted April 12, 2020 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

        An interesting summary (written in 2018 before Covid-19 even) of why bats seem to be a hyper-incubators for viruses. If nothing else, one hopes that China can get through a 100% ban on bats in wet markets. There are many other changes they desperately need to make – the unnecessary and sadistic animal abuse that goes on in those markets is something I wasn’t aware of until Covid-19, and the images I’ve seen on Twitter are one of those things that make me say “The suffering of sentient beings is so unacceptable that maybe we’d really be better off if there was no sentience at all.” Existential crisis level horrific. There are other animals they are eating that are high risk, and practices such as slaughtering animals in the markets that are high risk. That said, if this is too big of a cultural shift to make overnight and they have to choose their battles, at least getting rid of the bats, without exception, would hopefully be finite enough in scope that it’s pretty do-able. (Honestly, if I had my druthers I’d want to get rid of the animal abuse first, but as this still goes on in a different form even on factory farms in this country, I have a feeling that will be a slow shift.) Here’s hoping that happens before we get something even worse than Covid-19.

        • Roo
          Posted April 12, 2020 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

          Not stated in that article is the idea that because bats’ have such efficient immune systems, viruses mutate at faster rates to keep up with them (in a way that would be too deadly in other animals, as the virus would kill its host and die off.) So the viruses are calibrated for the immune systems of bats, but then wreak havoc when they jump to animals with different types of immune systems.

  19. Posted April 12, 2020 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    Bats are the origin of coronaviruses but it spreads to humans through an intermediary species, not directly. For MERS, which began in the middle east, the intermediary species was the dromedary camel.

    • merilee
      Posted April 12, 2020 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

      I had no idea about the camels.

      • Posted April 12, 2020 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

        I had a camel spit right in my face once. I can see how they could spread respiratory viruses.

        • merilee
          Posted April 12, 2020 at 7:07 pm | Permalink


    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted April 12, 2020 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

      Tomb bats, which are insectivores. I wonder how camels get the virus from the bats and do camels become as sick as humans?

      Re another species of bat transmitting a completely different deadly virus to humans, vampire bats in Latin America can transmit rabies through their bites. I usually turn the radio dial when a TED talk comes on but today I listened and heard an absolutely absorbing talk on vampire bats and rabies in Latin America about 8 minutes long

  20. Posted April 12, 2020 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    The Regressive Left has infected far too many with its lack of a sense of humor.

    I thought it was funny that someone referred to Corona Virus as the Kung Flu. And that apparently some Hong Kong folks refer to themselves as Hongkies. I’m white as can be and laugh at the term Honkies for whites.

  21. BillyJoe
    Posted April 12, 2020 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Bill Maher has his own problems.

    But his problem lies in the future when a vaccine becomes available. He has views on vaccines that definitely do not align with medical science, and he promotes the views of anti-vaccinationists:

    [video src="" /]

    So, it will be interesting to see what he has to say, if and when, a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus becomes available.

  22. Ben Murray
    Posted April 12, 2020 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    In 2015, the World Health Organization proposed “best practices” for disease naming: They were explicitly about avoiding stigma for those who might be referenced in the names. That meant, among other things, avoiding the names of individuals or of geographic locations in disease names. Many existing names are indeed incompatible with these guidelines, and some were named as illustrations of what should not be done (for example, Lyme disease and Creutzfeld-Jacob disease).

  23. Roger
    Posted April 12, 2020 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    Is he still on his “western medicine” kick? Why is he racist against westerns.

    • tomh
      Posted April 13, 2020 at 12:32 am | Permalink

      It’s not a kick with him, his views haven’t changed in 20 years. Less than six months ago he had Jay Gordon, M.D., noted vaccine crank on his show, and wholeheartedly endorsed his views. Gordon is well-known for providing vaccine exemptions to all and sundry, so much so that California had to tighten up the medical requirements for its new law prohibiting personal and religious exemptions for vaccines.

      Maher, in response to Gordon, said, “I’m just saying we don’t know s***, we don’t know a lot about how the body works. So how do vaccines fit in with all the new chemicals? There’s thousands of new chemicals, pollutants, irritants. We didn’t use to have all this corn syrup in our bodies or antibiotics.” He went on to say it could be “realistic” that there could be a link between vaccines and autism.

      With 11 million Twitter followers and 1.3 million viewers every week, the man is a danger to public health.

      • Roger
        Posted April 13, 2020 at 12:57 am | Permalink

        More proof that if we repeat something enough times, and put in a sufficient number of maybes so as to appear reasonable, then we can just go right ahead and put a QED after it. It could be realistic that there could be a link between vaccines and autism, QED.

  24. stuartcoyle
    Posted April 13, 2020 at 2:57 am | Permalink

    I live in Brisbane and Hendra virus is named after one of our suburbs.

  25. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted April 13, 2020 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    I suggest you call it the Trump Virus in the US, since his typically incompetent posturing on it has probably done more to inhibit containment efforts and hence spread the virus than anyone else.


  26. Posted April 13, 2020 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    The video conflates two issues.

    On the subject of naming diseases, I’d be quite happy, myself, to continue to use the apparently new convention of naming the disease after the virus (or other vector) that causes it. That would seem to me to be more sensible than naming it after an arbitrary geographical region (see, for example Spanish flu which almost certainly started elsewhere). “Lyme disease” tells me nothing about Lyme disease. “Blood sucking tick disease” might though.

    The second issue is the issue of blame for the origin of the disease and, more importantly, how do we stop it from happening again. I think the early actions of the Chinese government in trying to suppress the bad news contributed to the size of the problem and the practice of wet markets (if that is indeed the source) didn’t help. Just calling this “Wuhan disease” isn’t going to get the Chinese to do what’s necessary to stop it from happening again.

    • Posted April 13, 2020 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      I agree with this entirely. Bill Maher may not be aware of the 2015 decision to stop naming diseases for their place of origin. Or he may have ignored it to make his point.

      His point is a valid one. China needs to be held accountable for practices within their culture that have a tendency to cause new diseases to arise in human populations and their suppression of information interferes with the global response to these diseases. Going back to the pre-2015 practice of disease naming would not be a good way of holding the Chinese government accountable and responsible.

      • Posted April 13, 2020 at 10:08 am | Permalink

        Thanks. You put that far better than I did.

        • Posted April 13, 2020 at 10:15 am | Permalink

          Thanks. I was afraid I was merely repeating what you said and adding nothing. 😉

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