19 October 2009

It's about bloody time!

At last, an article in a widely read publication, especially by families, that gives us some good news about what NOT to worry about!

In Parade Magazine yesterday, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner penned an article on "What Should You worry About?"* Oddly enough, stranger abduction and shark attacks are not among them! They use, of all things, economics to help us understand the news cycle and why only the most sensational, no matter how rare, bad events get us churned up into a frenzy. This can start even smart people worrying that the next time junior goes wading in the stream in the woods behind the house he'll come dragging himself home missing both legs from a wayward shark gone mad. There is almost never "the other side of the story". For instance. Mr. Levitt and Dubner point out that "between 1995 and 2005 there were an average of 60.3 shark attacks worldwide each year...on average 5.9 fatalities per year." But the headlines didn't read "Shark Attacks This Year About Average". Elephants kill an average of 200 people a year. But the remote, poor places where elephants kill people aren't where the people are that are gluing themselves to the TV screens and watching the ads in between the horrors.

I commend these authors for bucking the trend. It's obviously so easy to focus only on the sensational, and it draws viewers, apparently. Does that mean we are so bereft of anything better to do than sit and watch the "news" that we start to believe everything presented to us? Or, is there an alternative?

Of course there is. Challenge the "obvious". Check out the real stats. And make an informed decision about what is safe and what isn't. You'll be much more relaxed when junior is wading in the stream in the woods out back, or walking to school, or playing in the neighborhood (gasp, out of your sight!). The other benefit is that you'll feel safe enough yourself to go out and DO SOMETHING adventurous instead of ingesting the "news cycle" and its constant stream of "THE SKY IS FALLING"!

*To read the entire article I quoted above, pick up the October 18, 2009 edition of Parade Magazine, or go to http://www.parade.com/news/2009/10/18-what-should-you-worry-about.html

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