Home > 2011 Posts > And Now, Back to You, Chicken Little…

And Now, Back to You, Chicken Little…

Hysteria is big business. Japan’s tough time since the recent quake and tsunami is a case in point. With devastation and loss of life a hundred times worse that Hurricane Katrina, 95% of air time and Dire Warning is spent on The Nuclear Boogeyman. In real life, that boogeyman has produced harm outside the plant fence of a fraction of a chest x-ray. When all is said and done, my guess is that the total harm to people might get up to the level of one chest x-ray for those within a mile or so. All attention is laser-focused on what might happen in Chicken Little’s world and almost none on what did happen in ours. And that’s no accident.

The Chicken Little Danger

The business model for those reporting to us 24 hours a day about the disaster is: If I can frighten you to the point of unreasoning fear, then you will pay more attention to me, do what I say, and further enrich my sponsors. The cardinal rule in the hysteria business is to Never, Ever Provide Context, Hard Numbers or Historical Comparison.

Lessons from two childhood fables apply: Chicken Little, as I mentioned above, and The Boy Who Cried Wolf! As you may recall, a small thing fell and bonked Chicken Little on his head. In panic, he ran around telling other chickens that the sky was falling and doom was at hand. In the wolf, story, the boy wanted attention and got it with false danger warnings. By the time the wolf finally came, the boy had taught his village to ignore any warning from him. The parallels to modern ‘journalism’ are profound.

The Real Danger

Daily, Rednecks and Gangbangers are derided as the idiots of society. For my money, they are truly wise compared to the arrogant ignorance of professional journalists who work hard to insulate themselves from logic, context, math, science and history.

And your take is… ?


An afterthought: the character named Fast Eddie in the film, Ice Age 2: The Meltdown sums this all up in an amusing way. Watching the movie will relieve much of your false-hysteria-induced anxiety.

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