Of course the winner of the contest is Mr. Biden, since he lacks even the excuse of a self-interested motive. But standing right behind the vice president is a legion of heavily credentialed panic proliferators.
These are the people whose terrifying forecasts you last heard during the avian flu panic of 2005 (deaths to date: 257, according to the World Health Organization) and the SARS panic of 2002-2003 (774 deaths). By contrast, garden-variety flus typically kill upwards of 30,000 Americans a year.
You might also have a vague memory of the “mad cow” panic that gripped the world in the 1990s. In his 1997 book “Deadly Feasts,” Richard Rhodes warned that the human variant of mad cow, known as vCJD, might kill as many as 500,000 people a year in Britain alone. So far, total confirmed cases world-wide run to around 150.
Has anyone ever heard of the Boy Who Cried Wolf? This graphic makes a telling point:
It’s probably an exaggeration. The green sliver is probably too big, but the creators had to make it visible to complete the effect.
Not to pick on the Boulder Daily Camera, but this story is just one example of how the hysteria contagion is about as disturbing as the spread of the H1N1 strain itself.
Back to your regularly scheduled programming…