Avid Editor's Insights

The Media that Cried Wolf: Why We’ll Never See an Actual Pandemic Coming

Posted by ghostofsparta on May 4, 2009

I’ve always considered myself a skeptic by nature. Part of that is because I’m a realist, which means taking a lot of life with a grain of salt. This is especially true concening the media. Now I’m not an idiot, and I know how capitalism works. The media gets money by making every story seem like it’s the most imporant story of our lifetimes. Most of the time it’s not a problem, overblowing celebrity screwups or political misspeaks won’t destory western society. However, there is one line that they media crosses too often: declaring a pandemic is upon us every year.

Every year, it seems the media types come out in sackcloth and ashes declaring “Woe unto us, the end is nigh.” This year’s pandemic-du-jour is Swine Flu (H1N1). Why this year, the numbers are staggering. In the U.S. alone there have been 286 confirmed cases in 36 states! Why, there’s even been 1 death in the America….at least techinally anyway, as it was a Mexican child who died while in America:

The only swine flu death in the U.S. is that of a Mexican toddler who was visiting Texas.

But hey, the media says that THIS is the one that’s gonna kill us all. And why should we doubt them? After all, it was basically the same flu that did actually kill close to 100 million people in 1918, when it was called the Spanish Flu. Never mind that the disease spread like wildfire because of the horrible conditions of trench warfare in WWI. After all in 90 years we have had absolutely no advances in medicine or living conditions.

I mean, it’s not like the media does this every year. Oh wait, they do. Do any of you remember Avian Flu (H5N1)? Avian flu was suppoed to wipe out all of mankind as late as last year, but the totals for that disease include 421 infected and 257 deaths. Sure, that’s an impressive kill rate of 61%, but take a look at this chart, which shows a vast majority of the cases occuring in Indonesia (141 infected/115 dead), Vietnam (110/55), and Egypt (66/23). Shining examples of medical advances and high standards of living all 3.

Of course Avian flu should never have had its chance, as back in 2007 West Nile virus was supposed to be the apocalyptic disease to end all diseases. A different rant for a different would involve the insanity of keeping DDT banned while mosquitos, as main vectors of WNV, threated to wipe us out, but I digress.


The United States in 2007; “A total of 3,630 cases of WNV neuroinvasive disease (WNND) and 124 deaths were reported.”[10] This means that of extremely serious infections of WNV, less than 4% were fatal and the general total mortality rate was likely much less than 4% as most cases are not severe.

So just to recap, in a nation of ~300 million, a disease that infects just over 3500 and kills just over 100 will doom us all. Awesome.

And one more blast from the past, who can forget about SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)? The upper-respiratory infection from China was that going to kill us all was the pandemic of 2003.

There has been one near pandemic to date, between the months of November 2002 and July 2003, with 8,096 known infected cases and 774 deaths (a case-fatality rate of 9.6%) worldwide being listed in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 21 April 2004 concluding report.

Once more to recap, in a world that has a population of over 6 billion, 8000 infected and less than 800 dead is a “near pandemic.”

Sorry to dissapoint everbody, but none of these count as pandemics, no matter how much hype they may recieve. Do you know counts as a pandemic? A disease that kills 100 million people, or a disease that is responsible for wiping out half of China and close to 1/3 or Europe.

I’m a student of history. The next great pandemic is inevitable. It is only a matter of time before something will wipe out a large portion of humanity, mostly in the developing world where sanitation is poor and medical care is almost non-existant. But you know what doesn’t help? Screaming “THE SKY IS FALLING!” everytime flu season rolls around, or everytime 3 elderly people in Florida die of the same disease. I know I’m not the only one who has grown immune to the hyperventiling, and each year more and more people will do so. Eventually, nobody will care when the wolf is really at the door. The next Little Ice Age is approaching, and with it the perfect conditions for a world-shattering catastrophe.

So sorry Sheriff Joe, I don’t plan to “Gird my loins” just yet over this. And I could be wrong, but so far it looks like it is instead the media that is on the wrong track yet again. History doesn’t lie, but the media does.

(Crossposted at http://paranoidpyro8503.blogspot.com/2009/05/media-that-cried-wolf-why-well-never.html)

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