April 30, 2003

Mask Hysteria


Except for some environmentalism near the end, this Atlanta Journal-Constitution article by Patricia Guthrie does a good job of putting SARS into perspective: People fear SARS but shrug off other risks. Excerpt: Remember the recent summer of shark attacks? Forget swimming in the ocean. It seemed safer hanging out at the food shack chowing down a cheeseburger, ice cream and frosty mug. But the chances of being killed by a shark are 1 in 280 million; the chances of dying of a heart attack caused by clogged arteries are 1 in 384. ... "The facts notwithstanding, we're freaked about being attacked by a shark. It's a terrible way to die," said [Harvard Center for Risk Analysis' David] Ropeik, who spent 25 years as a TV reporter, chasing his share of ambulances. "The more afraid folks are, the better for the media," he said. "A story that is about a risk that hits a lot of hot buttons, that's a good story."

Posted by Forkum at April 30, 2003 08:09 AM