WHO Says

So, it is happening again. A new health threat is affecting a VERY small proportion of our population. The responsible organization, in this case, the World Health Organization, issues warnings filled with scary words like epidemic and pandemic and the press, always looking for a crisis to promote, tracks every case and predicts dire consequences as if its the bubonic plague. Social media joins in and before long,, people are wearing masks in places where that hasn’t been a single case. Government organizations, always anxious to feed off the fears of their constituents, cancel events and flights, or take Draconian measures in the face of minuscule real threats. And a jumpy stock market, always afraid of something that will threaten the economy, plunges. This isn’t the first time. Stop reading scary news stories and do a little historical research. Look up the SARS virus in 2002. The Swine Flu in 2009. The Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 when people nowhere near the site of the accident were taking iodine pills to prevent radiation poisoning. The 2001 anthrax attacks after 9-11 which elicited national hand-wringing, even though there were only 22 cases.

The process by which this happens is always the same. Let’s use the coronavirus scare as our example. Scientists, in this case the WHO, discover a health threat. These scientists genuinely care about protecting people from the virus but they also labor in anonymity for most of their lives. Just as some soldiers return from war seeing the battle as a peak experience, this outbreak is a big deal to the scientists, something they’ve been waiting for. The press is hanging on their every comment and so they comment with scary words and dire predictions. The press loves a crisis (even more now that they have to battle the internet press for readership and clicks), so they fill their pages and the air with stories and frightening headlines. Go look. See how often an article with Deadly Virus in the headline contain the words minuscule risk or low mortality rate buried in the text. Not much needs to be said about social media … when the uninformed or worse, trolls, get a hold of the scientists worst case predictions, the become the only thing they pass on.

Look, I’m not saying ignore the coronavirus, I’m just saying have some perspective. The WHO means well. They truly want to contain the virus but I believe that they use scare tactics to motivate governments … and maybe, citizens. Go back and read about the SARS outbreak and you’ll see the same rhetoric followed by the disease dropping into obscurity. In most of the world, the possibility of catching coronavirus is minuscule. 110 cases in the US, which has a population of 320 million (That’s 000034375%). Think about that. The Center for Disease Contol (CDC) estimates that in the last six months, there have been 32,000,000-45,000,000 cases of flu in the US, leading to 18,000 to 46,000 deaths. Over 600,000 people die of cancer in the US per year. There are about 36,000 deaths in auto accidents each year in the US. There’s plenty to worry about if you want to worry about dying. Just stop worrying about the coronavirus. Listen to the WHO with a skeptical ear. Read the news with an eye for the details not the flashy headlines. Ignore ANYTHING you read on social media. Have some perspective and relax … we’re all going to die of something but for the overwhelming majority of us it’s not going to be coronavirus.

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