Bacteria: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
11 May 2022, 16:00:00
Pipes of Scotland
You might feel completely human, but you have trillions of bacteria that you carry around with you. Most of them are on your skin and in your intestine, where they help you to digest food. However, even these helpful bacteria can cause infections when they start to grow in the wrong place. Other bacteria are outright dangerous and have caused pandemics, such as the plague. Luckily effective medication against bacterial infections has been developed: so-called antibiotics. Unfortunately, bacteria have found ways to defend themselves against these antibiotics, and they are very good at sharing these defence abilities. Therefore, an increasing number of bacteria are becoming antibiotic-resistant. Infections with such bacteria are becoming more common globally and are often very difficult to treat. We study the transport mechanism bacteria use to give each other antibiotics resistance. Hopefully, these can be blocked before bacteria turn the world into a wild Western movie. The most important thing we learn is not the knowledge itself but critical thinking. It gives us a too-good-to-be-true alarm and a compass that subdues emotions and helps us stay on course in an otherwise difficult-to-navigate information world. I will provide examples of when facts are handled carelessly and discuss how to call lies, deceptions, and bullshit.
Josy ter Beek