Perfect Example: The Simple Public Narrative Of Health and Science Coverage Often Obscures Complexity

Complexity. Many of us say we want it. Many of us complain about media coverage that avoids it.

But it”s hard not to notice that news about health — after it  is shaped and formed and telescoped into a form palatable for the general public —  often obscures a much more interesting,  if somewhat unsettling, scientific narrative.

We crave cures, dramatic discoveries, and individual stories of triumph over adversity.  But isn’t it just like the complexity and elegance of science to confound our desire for simplicity with ambiguous findings, uncertain remedies, and stories without neat and comforting endings?

Which leads to E. coli.

I know how many of my health science colleagues already knew about him this, but I’m even more curious about what percentage of the general public really understands the complexity and diversity of multiple strains of E. coli bacteria.  In  fact, there are hundreds of strains of the bacterium Escherichia coli, many of which are harmless and some that are not.