In “Parse-imony” I break down current news stories with my pithy, running commentary…
First the headline…
…and the story
PHILADELPHIA — Federal agents on Thursday raided a Boeing [second mention of their name] plant that makes military helicopters in a Philadelphia suburb and charged more than three dozen people with distributing or trying to get prescription drugs, among them powerful painkillers. [remember that the Obama Administration’s Labor Department has an ongoing dispute with Boeing]
Many articles that are meant to be “sensational” really just convey facts that play on many of our mostly irrational fears or the “gut” reaction described beautifully by author Daniel Gardner in his book The Science of Fear. These articles attempt to grab your “gut” long before providing more rational data (i.e. boring stuff) to your “head” that counters that fear they hope to exploit.
I’ll try to identify the “irrational” fear and please note that some of the fears may be somewhat rational until you look at other risk factors. You’ll have to decide whether the media just wants to attract consumers or have a real political agenda. I’ll opine – you decide.
My first thought about how to describe The Science of Fear was “Wow.” It is a fascinating look at fear, risk, risk perception and the psychology and marketing behind it all. Yes marketing. News outlets offer sensational stories that often give us misleading information to get us to watch, read, and listen. The recurring theme is how our “head” is often at odds with our “gut” when we filter information about risk. You’ll have to read it to find out which wins most often.
I walked into our living room a few nights ago and my daughter was watching Miracle which is the Hollywood version of the United States’ hockey team winning the Olympic Gold Medal at the 1980 games in Lake Placid, New York. I had stuff to do, but I made the mistake of sitting down and got hooked. I had seen the movie before and remembered the actual event (I even think I had saved the Sports Illustrated magazine that came out after the win).
Assume you are a government regulator, and I am a businessman with a new fuel I want to sell. My new fuel will be no cheaper than oil, but it will at least give us another choice, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The problem with it is that, unlike oil, which is just flammable, my new fuel is so flammable, it’s explosive. It’s also invisible, odorless, and deadly poisonous. Oh and I want to pump it directly into American homes.