Oct 27 2009
The news media lives off exaggeration and hype. They continuously apply their ignorance on all things scientific to create searing headlines to generate business and money. They should understand that this irresponsible behavior of yelling ‘fire’ when there is barely any smoke is one of the many things that have turned Americans off to their shoddy products.
One of the things I think this blog brings to the daily drama queen balls playing out in the news media is some context and perspective. So let me start by comparing two of the big headlines causing a lot of useless hand wringing and panic.
Let’s begin with Afghanistan and the blaring headlines of impending doom. To date 825 American have died in that conflict, with the death toll rising in the past months to around 40-50 per month. that would equate to 600 deaths this year if it were to be sustained (and it will probably not be).
Each death is tragic, but this is not a war we are losing. We only lose wars when we lose our resolve to win them. This is not cause to yell ‘fire’.
Now let’s compare those numbers to the swine flu deaths in the US. To date 1,000 people have succumbed, many due to other complicating conditions which has weakened their ability to fend of the flu.
Is it really stunning that we have lost more people to the swine flu than in Afghanistan? Does this make the swine flu extremely deadly? Is this akin to being in a losing war?
No, it does not because the swine flu has yet to do as much damage as the normal annual flu does world wide in any given year:
So far about 1,000 people have died from swine flu-related complications in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Globally, the World Health Organization claims about 5,000 deaths were linked to the disease.
But on average, the CDC claims 36,000 deaths each year are linked to the seasonal flu.
Not even close to a ‘fire’.
So why all the hype and angst? Well, a cynical observer would note that neither Afghanistan nor the swine flu rise to the level of the human toll from the normal flu season. Is this just to sell news by yelling ‘fire’?
Well I am going to go uber-cynical here and note a few things that may have escaped casual observation.
- The President and his team are well aware of the schedule for distributing swine flu vaccines. Therefore, they know the bulk of the vaccines are not distributed to the general public for some weeks to come
- The President just issued a medical emergency regarding the swine flu, even though the data doesn’t show it yet rising to levels more serious than the seasonal flew
- The President’s team should damn well know that a declaration of a medical emergency would naturally cause a run by the public to get vaccinated, even though they also know the supplies have not been distributed yet to meet such demand.
One can only conclude from these actions, and this context, someone is trying to create an impression that there is an emergency which our health care system is incapable of addressing. Is it not interesting to consider how that impression might play out during this key phase of debate regarding health care reform?
Cynical? – Yes. Beyond what power hungry pols inhabiting DC and the Political Industrial Complex might try?
I’ll let you good folks decide that one.