The Great Influenza
In the passage from “The Great Influenza”, by author John M. Barry, it talks about the
uncertainty of scientists. Science is the study of our world and its surroundings. A job that
requires dedication, courage and self efficiency. John Barry talks about science in his passage to
create certainty that scientists will discover a vaccine to contain the flu epidemic. In order for
Barry to convey to his audience what a scientist’s or researcher’s role consists of, Barry uses
juxtaposition, extended metaphor, and analogy.
In the first paragraph, Barry Juxtaposes between certainty and uncertainty on how they
are structured and their ideas. The fact that “certainty creates strength” and uncertainty creates
weakness” proves that they are opposite from each other. Barry then goes on to say that
“uncertainty makes one tentative” proving that it is necessary in science. Frequently in the
paragraph, the good qualities of certainty and the bad qualities of uncertainty are placed side by
side to compare the two qualities. The use of juxtaposition was necessary in order to prove that
certainty was vital in a scientist's research to prove anything that will be uncertain.
The third paragraph continues to say that, “a scientist must accept the fact that all his or
her work, even beliefs, may break apart upon the sharp edge of a single laboratory finding”. This
would be incredibly difficult to do as almost every person in this world has their own beliefs.
Speaking from personal experience, because the thought of having to think of what happens to
someone after they have passed on would be easy to understand from my perspective, but a
scientist should not believe in that as it has not be proven. Barry uses Einstein as an example of
allusion proves that even one of the greatest scientists in the world “refused to accept his own
theory until his predictions were tested”. It is better for a scientist to face one’s beliefs in order to
prove one of their disbeliefs.
After setting the understanding of certainty and uncertainty, Barry then transitions to
metaphor, comparing the field of a scientist to a pioneer. A scientists creates order by providing
facts and evidence gathered from their research, but a pioneer is able to approach chaos, creating
order with "the very tools and techniques needed to clear the wilderness". The only problem is
that these tools "do not exist". This relates to his point of being a scientist, that their suppose to
make sense of uncertainty by having to use tools that seem to not exist. In order for the scientists