02 May 2009

When pigs fly? Swine flew!

AAARRRGH! We're doomed! The economy's heading into a new Great Depression! And the swine flu is going to kill us all! And Europe will become Islamic in fifty years! And China is about to replace us as the world's leading power! And Obama is a Commie who's going to take our guns and make us use crappy light bulbs and ride the bus! And what about that man with a knife sneaking up behind you as you sit at the computer! Made you look, didn't I? BOO! Hahaha!

Panic-mongering is not a victimless crime. It may sell newspapers and boost ratings, but it also fills millions of people with needless anxiety, and can cause unnecessary or counterproductive actions to be taken due to hysteria.

Now that the media are starting to notice that the great swine-flu "pandemic" has killed just a tiny fraction of the tens of thousands who "normally" die from "ordinary" flu every year anyway, and economics experts are shifting from tentative predictions of recovery to debates about just how durable the recovery which has already begun will turn out to be, it is perhaps a good time to step back and reconsider our membership in the panic-of-the-month club.

Of course, there are such things as real existential threats. Soviet expansionism was a real threat. Islam and global warming are. And don't forget, as we mostly do, the most terrible mass killer of all. But real threats like these tend to be long-term, ongoing things, rather complicated and not amenable to sensationalism and sound-bites (though the media do try), usually existing in the mass public mind on a background-noise level (if at all) while the media-driven fad-crises erupt and vanish every few months; and they do have solutions, though those solutions also tend to be long-term, rather complex or technical, and not at all helped along by hysteria or impatience. In fact, the endless succession of fad-panics just distracts people and confuses them about what issues actually need attention.

Oh, and if you must whip up hysteria about things, please at least spell them right! It's F-L-U. F-L-U-E is a different word.

9 Comments:

Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Damn good post! That's about what this sum's up to, nothin but a goddamn circus in a way,even this economical rubbish is a bunch of hogwash, the money didnt disappear, and all these giant's are not all of the sudden broke. The more BS we buy...the more will be sold to us ... after all... it's business. Good point you made about all the people that die annually from the flu ... period.

Thank You Sir......

02 May, 2009 06:12  
Anonymous JollyRoger said...

You forgot about the classes Obama's going to mandate in elementary schools that teach all the little boys and girls about the joys of sodomy.

02 May, 2009 10:09  
Blogger vamp said...

Gawd forbid I need to go to the hospital or get some other kind of sickness and have to fight all the idiots in the ER right now.

This media 3 ring circus has to stop. People are stupid and paranoid too, believing everything they hear. UGH!

02 May, 2009 23:51  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

BTW ... I just wanted to mention, I love the post title here! :)

Later Guy......

03 May, 2009 04:21  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

The swine flu panic already seems to be subsiding. I guess some of us who have been around for a while remember the great swine flu panic of 1976, which also failed to result in the world coming to an end.

I keep thinking of foreigners who read English with the help of a dictionary seeing all these blog postings about "swine flue" and wondering if Americans all have pigs stuck in our chimneys.....

03 May, 2009 05:00  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Actually...my daughter just came to me and told me that a friend of her's whole family was diagnosed yesterday in a Dallas area hospital with the "swine flu" now, this is for real though...no joke. As far as we know...the family are all running a fever and being treated/medicated, but nothing traumatic.

03 May, 2009 09:31  
Blogger Prash said...

Thanks for this wonderful post !

03 May, 2009 22:01  
Blogger Prash said...

To tell you how the media the [Hong Kong] Government making it a big issue :

Clients & staff of the Metropark Hotel where a 25 yr old Mexican with the Swine Flu spent few hours are put on Quarantine for one week since last Friday. Living in a Palace Hotel is not consoling anyone. They all are so frustrated by this radical measure. Witnesses say they heard screams of a Korean guy and a British couple. The medical authorities in Hong Kong (including Pasteur Institute of Hong Kong university) tell that it is an unnecessary measure.

I think this excess of precaution is due to the sad memories of the SRAS in 2003 in Hong Kong and Govt. feels obliged to do something otherwise people will be unhappy.

03 May, 2009 23:09  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

RC -- "Hogwash" is exactly the right term for it. And the BS industry is one that always prospers. :-)

Jolly Roger -- I should have included a line about "gay panic", though the right-wingers are actually not having much luck pushing that one these days. 20 years ago they were saying the gays were going to.....molest our kids! Then it turned out it was actually the Catholic priests who were doing that. Back to the drawing board. Now they're saying the gays are going to.....get married! And somehow this means the end of civilization. But they can't seem to find many people dumb enough to be scared by that one.

Vamp -- This is a classic problem with fad sillyness: misallocation of resources. Every emergency-room doctor who's tied up treating scared peopkle with the sniffles isn't available for actual emergencies. Every dollar spent on R&D for space colonies isn't available for fighting global warming. And so on.

Prash -- Thanks. Making foreign tourists unhappy is not going to help their economy. But, maybe if they panic over nothing this time and embarrass themselves, they will learn to do better next time. I think our response this time was more rational because of the memories of the 1976 panic.

04 May, 2009 04:39  

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