A true must read: amazing essay by Tal Addaby “Less Disinfectant, More Rioja”

There is a wonderfully essay by Tal Abbady coming out in tomorrow’s New York Times (and available online now).

A few years in Spain, and my mother’s last days, helped me see the futility of a sterilized life.

Source: Less Disinfectant, More Rioja 

The essay is about many things, including differences between cultures (pun intended by me), her mother, her life, fear and freedom.  The fear part includes a focus on fear of germs.  She includes discussion of people who try to sterilize the world around them – their hands – surfaces – and every bit of their lives.  I don’t want to spoil the essay, but just want to really suggest that everyone reads it.  And I love the ending

When fears of a contaminated-armrest death creep up, just contemplate the many millions of microbes that sheathe any human body. Most, but not all, are quite friendly.



For a related (though nowhere near as well written) post I wrote about how germophobia has gone crazy see Studying — not wantonly killing — the microbes around us and the rise of the “microbiology of the built environment”

One thought on “A true must read: amazing essay by Tal Addaby “Less Disinfectant, More Rioja”

  1. Some responses from Twitter:

    Good story. Good writing. Good message. https://t.co/WLbAhuckC5— Tools of Science (@ToolsOfScience) April 4, 2016

    @phylogenomics Using bleach to clean floors is quite common in ES. But no real germophobia. @nytimes— darked (@darked) April 4, 2016

    I'm a big fan of Rioja and it is so interesting to consider cultural aspects of germophobia. https://t.co/sAceTPDFKf— Holly Ganz (@hollyhganz) April 4, 2016

    On antimicrobial fear and wine and why we should indulge in more of the latter. https://t.co/vnmwvsyu0V— Joseph McPhee (@JoeBMcPhee) April 3, 2016

    Beautiful NYT re paranoia about bacteria https://t.co/HgKwMNeUQq Mediterranean joie de vivre includes coexistence & bleach @phylogenomics— Victor de Lorenzo (@vdlorenzo_CNB) April 3, 2016

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Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. My lab is in the UC Davis Genome Center and I hold appointments in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine and the Department of Evolution and Ecology in the College of Biological Sciences. My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis (see my lab site here which has more information on lab activities).  In addition to research, I am heavily involved in the Open Access publishing and Open Science movements.