Supercourse Newsletter, January 24, 2005
"The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear."
--- H.P. Lovecraft
We were very pleased to help so many people with the Tsunami
lectures. We thank all of you for your help.
There were several important findings. One was that many very
much liked the lecture despite Ali Ardalan writing at a very
high scholarly level. The thousands of teachers of the world re-
did the lectures so that they would be contextually understand-
able by markedly different populations ranging from students in
3rd grade, oceanography students, physics students, public
health students, food science etc.
Do a Google search on Supercourse and Tsunami, in a space of 10
days there were over 120 references to our work. It was fasci-
nating to see where the links came from, as most came from Li-
braries and schools. We gathered about 2,300 members to the Su-
percourse in 5 days, a remarkable increase. The 'epidemiology'
was most interesting as the major rise in the numbers of people
joining was between 4-12 days, then on days 12-15 there was a
precipitous decline. The 'Tsunami' epidemic curve shows that the
lectures have to be built very quickly or else one will not
reach very far out. By the time we could translate the lecture,
the epidemic of interest was over. Samar Elkhoudary was able to
translate the lecture into Arabic, with an extremely positive
response. However we should have had the lecture translated into
more lectures but ran out of time and energy to do this.
The Supercourse team has a huge advantage as we can troll for
expertise, thus we spread a note out to the network and 'caught'
people with the expertise and interest to help. It is the 'col-
lective intelligence' of the Supercourse network that is our
Another important finding was that we can easily cross back and
forth scientific boarders. Experts on Tsunamis, oceanography,
and many other areas of earth scientists were exceedingly help-
ful. In addition, this worked both ways as many educators from
earth science helped us out. The final finding was very enlight-
ening, the target of the 'Just in Time' (JIT) lectures surpris-
ingly is not preventing morbidity and mortality in the Tsunami
stricken areas. Instead with our lectures we attack the fears of
people world wide of the Tsunami. Educators world wide very much
wanted lectures that addressed two simple questions: What is a
Tsunami? and What causes a Tsunami? We wrote an article in the
Lancet a few years ago titled "Epidemiology of Fear". The Super-
course attacks fear and ignorance.
It was an honor to work on this lecture. We have had help from
Iranians, Russians, Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Jews, faculty
in Desserts, and those in the Tsunami hit areas. There were
those in academia, in the military, in government, men, women
who joined. The beauty of the Supercourse is that we can jump
out of our silos to collaborate with those in other disciplines.
We want our Supercourse faculty to provide additional thoughts
about the Just in Time lectures. We can drill down to say Cairo
for a food poisoning outbreak, or in Madrid for a measles out-
break and to localized. Should a disaster occur in your country,
you should consider now as to who you would need to contact to
obtain the information needed.
It was a yet another wonderful experience working with you on
the Tsunami lecture. We did not know if it could be done, but
with your help we assisted hundreds of thousands of students
across the world.
"Have a vision not clouded by fear." -- Cherokee Proverb
Ron, Ali, Eugene, Mita, Soni, Faina, Samar