Insufficient Fear of the “Super-flu”?: The World Health Organization’s Global Decision-Making for Health



In 2012, the World Health Organization not only condoned the creation of “super-flus” (high lethality strains with heightened transmissibility), but also urged greater dispersal of these strains among research facilities around the globe. This essay analyzes that decision process using an updated theory of logos and pathos that incorporates contemporary understandings of emotion and the human brain into prescriptions for public deliberative decision-making processes. That analysis shows that, because the decision process was necessarily executed through the affective reasoning processes of the 22 narrowly-selected individuals invited to the meeting, it could not provide an optimal decision process. The essay therefore proposes that the World Health Organization should adopt an on-line, open-access discussion process for deliberating about major decisions about world health policies. The basis for the decision in affect (pathos) rather than in ostensible logos is demonstrated by textual and contextual evidence produced by the participants.

Keywords: internet democracy, science policy, rhetoric of science, public understanding of science, H5N1, super-flu, bio-safety, WHO, pathos, logos, bio-containment, flu policy, health policy, World Health Organization

How to Cite: Condit, C. M. (2014) “Insufficient Fear of the “Super-flu”?: The World Health Organization’s Global Decision-Making for Health”, Poroi. 10(1). doi: