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Truism: We're All Going to Die

Apparently it's freak-out time again in the mainstream media. Last time it was peanut butter with salmonella. This time? "Swine flu" imported fresh for Mexico City (or so they claim). I'm not going to link to any of the stories, since turning on your TV will be adequate enough. I will link to one site, however. Here's the CDC Human Swine Influenza Investigation site. Please look at this page. Scroll to the "TOTAL COUNT" line and read the number with me.

(I'll pause while you look)
(seriously, take a look)

Ok, back from looking now? Absolutely terrifying, isn't it? Yes, that's right. 21 cases in all of the US at this point. 21. So, you'd better go buy a mask, throw out all your pork products (I don't think Spam counts;), and start warming up your cave of despair.

But, seriously folks, there are two thoughts I want you to carry with you through all this "excitement":

1) Bruce Schneier's rule of mainstream media states that if it's being covered in the mainstream media, then you probably don't have to worry about it, because their business is overhyping low-probability events.

2) The one truism in life today is that we will all die some day. Technology has not overcome this reality, and thus we should expect death to come knocking, whether we like it or not. Put aside fear and replace it with scientific curiosity.

This example is just one more case where we see how poor humans are at performing real-world risk assessment and analysis. Part of the problem is how emotional people get over issues related to death. However, another part of the problem is how blindly accepting the general population is of any BS spewed forth by the mainstream media. It's time to change this, one person at a time. Don't be drawn into FUD-based arguments for low-probability events that will almost certainly have little-to-no impact on your life. Coldly evaluate what you're hearing, seek out the facts (metrics!), and then make a rational decision.

Thus ends my public service announcement for the day. :)


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