Monday, August 30, 2010

Never Trust Until You Verify

By: Bastiatarian

The other day WHO announced that the swine flu "pandemic" had ended. I was surprised, because based on all the hysteria stirred up by the federal government and the mainstream media, I had assumed that swine flu was going to significantly depopulate the world, change civilization as we know it, and make it hard to get a good burrito.

None of that happened, so I started wondering about it all.

First, H1N1 (swine flu) has resulted in just under 19,000 deaths worldwide. That's a lot of dead people, of course, but then I considered the fact that, according to WHO's own statement, normal seasonal influenza is responsible for about 250,000 to 500,000 deaths worldwide.

Swine flu's not so impressive in that context.

So why was this outbreak of H1N1, small from the start, declared to be a pandemic?

Because WHO changed the definition of a pandemic before declaring H1N1 a pandemic. When most people think of a pandemic, they think of a high rate of serious illness and death, lots and lots of people with the disease, and lots and lots of them dying from it.

WHO took that part out.

In other words, we had a pandemic in which there was neither a high rate of morbidity nor a high rate of mortality. A pandemic that wasn't a pandemic.

So much for the end of the world.

Why did we believe the hysteria? People have a tendency to believe individuals or organizations that they view as authority figures. In particular, people seem to be especially susceptible to statements made by government organizations and mass media outlets. Governments and the media are supposed to be trustworthy, and we often make the mistake of thinking that they actually are trustworthy, regardless of how consistently they have proven to be anything but trustworthy.

Many of us have learned, however, that what we are told by governmental organizations--of any country now on earth--is more likely to be spin at best, and outright falsehoods a significant part of the time. Mass media is often even worse than government, due to the nature of the members of that group as professional storytellers.

Some people adhere to the saying "Trust, but verify." That may work in many private relationships, but in our relationship with the government and the mainstream media, trusting without thorough verification first would be the height of foolishness.

2 comments:

  1. Actually, I think you could drop the word "trust" altogether and just stick with "verify." As the spouse of a cancer survivor, I've learned not to believe doctors or hospitals either.

    ReplyDelete
  2. >trusting without thorough verification first would be the height of foolishness.<

    Amen to this!

    ReplyDelete

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