Sunday, September 02, 2001

A few months ago, when Mir was set to make its final, fiery plunge to Earth, Washington's Fox 5 News took their typical alarmist spin on such stories to new heights. They reported the infinitesimal chance of the space station coming down in an inhabited area in such breathless, hyperbolic terms that viewers could have reasonably assumed the vehicle was going to fall right on top of their children!

This was so egregious, I did something I'd never done before: phoned the station and called them on their fear mongering. While I got nothing but soothing platitudes and an assurance that my concerns "were noted and appreciated" from the woman who answered, the tone of their Mir stories changed considerably the next night. Either I'm a very powerful speaker or, more likely, I wasn't the only person who called.

This morning, the Associated Press bursts the bubble of this summer's big media-hyped fallacy that shark attacks are on the rise. AP's story on the first fatal shark attack of the year closes with some statistics that put the situation into perspective:

Of the 40 shark attacks worldwide this year, none had been fatal... Twenty-eight have been in Florida waters.

Last year, there were 79 shark attacks worldwide, 51 in the United States.
In other words, with eight months of the year under our belts, we're currently on pace for about 60 shark attacks worldwide in 2001. That's nearly a twenty-five percent decrease from last year. Further, just going by the averages, I'm sixteen times more likely to be struck by lightning while in a coastal state than to be bitten by a shark while swimming off the coast of one of those states, according to the International Shark Attack File.

Remind me again why I'm supposed to be afraid to go in the water?
Posted @ 10:55 AM


Am we talking to myselves?

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