Late Friday afternoon, after watching President Trump’s Rose Garden declaration of a national emergency to combat the Coronavirus, I went to the local supermarket to pick up a few odds and ends. Anybody want to guess what I found?
Upon arrival, I noticed that the parking lot was jammed and that a score of harried-looking shoppers were pushing heavily-laden carts to their cars. Sensing what waited inside, I considered turning around and going home empty-handed. But then I had a better idea. This was a chance to observe firsthand exactly what kind of panic and carnage a solid month of media hype can produce.
So, eager to immerse myself into the media-created zombie apocalypse, I bulled my way into the store and found myself in the middle of a reasonably accurate re-enactment of the Fall of Saigon. A grim, pushing, swarming locust-like army of shoppers was busily stripping the shelves bare. There was no bread, milk, cheese, bottled water, toilet paper, paper towels, bleach, or hand sanitizer. Canned vegetables were in short supply, and the frozen food section was being rapidly depleted.
Nobody appeared to be angry or openly fearful. But they weren’t happy or friendly either. There were no apologies or pleasantries exchanged as shopping carts collided or people hurriedly pushed past one another to get to what few groceries and supplies remained. The shoppers were silent and looked worried. The anxiety and tension were palpable.
I grabbed a half thawed frozen pizza, a six pack of Coca Cola and the last box of chocolate cupcakes – all the basic food groups – and got into the check out line that snaked back and forth through the store much like the spring break que for the Jungle Cruise at Disney World. It took twenty minutes to reach the cashier.
Why are the media affording Coronavirus “end-of-the-world-we’re-all-gonna-die!” coverage when apparently more deadly annual influenzas have rated far less hysterical treatment?
Overall it was the glummest Friday afternoon crowd I had ever seen. And why not? They have been scared to death, and the economy has been paralyzed by the unrelenting doom and gloom media drumbeat.
My bride of 52 years is a retired school nurse who has had extensive front line experience dealing with infectious diseases. She is greatly worried about the Coronavirus, and the harm it may cause. I, on the other hand, am a trial lawyer who has spent decades in courtrooms cross-examining highly-credentialed and well-compensated expert witnesses and deconstructing statistical analyses and scientific theories. That’s why, as I compare the Coronavirus to the influenzas of today and yesteryear, I have reached a different conclusion: I smell a rat.
A rat, as in why are the media affording Coronavirus “end-of-the-world-we’re-all-gonna-die!” coverage when apparently more deadly annual influenzas have rated far less hysterical treatment?
I am working on an analytical article explaining this discrepancy and plan to have something for you soon. In the meantime, here’s a prescient Simpsons episode that will, I hope, bring a smile to your face during this difficult time.
This piece was printed courtesy of George Parry from his blog, KnowledgeIsGood. Please find original piece here.