Crowds are stupid. People panic over every "end of the world" theory they read about on the Internet, forward each other emails claiming Barack Obama is building concentration camps and they repeat urban legends without taking five seconds to verify them on Snopes.
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But everybody can get taken in sometimes. Just look at these panics that seemed to draw in lots of well-educated types right along with the rubes. Like...
Cough. Within 30 seconds, someone in your office will ask if you have Swine Flu. If you say you do, you will be quarantined by a crowd bearing pitchforks and torches.
That scene is repeating itself all over the globe, to varying degrees. In Japan, they're selling a suit that makers claim can repel the H1N1 virus. In the Middle East, Iranian officials have banned their devout from going on Pilgrimage to Muslim holy sites, including Mecca, to avoid contamination. Saudi Arabia is requiring that pilgrims coming to Mecca provide proof of vaccination. For the very few of our readers who aren't devout Muslims, that's like canceling Christmas and making Aunt Ethel stand out in the snow until she shows you her small pox scar.
Why It Sounds Rational:
It's Swine Flu! Didn't the news say that this shit had the potential to kill like 100-million people?
And the news is never misleading.
And look at the response! The U.S. is preparing to vaccinate half the freaking population in under a year. That's never even been attempted before. Not even with Polio.
If you don't speak the language of local and cable news, allow us to translate: THIS IS AN EMERGENCY, PEOPLE! Get in your Swine Flu bunkers before it's too late!
Why It's Not:
The current pandemic of Swine Flu has claimed less than 3,000 lives. Well... that's still pretty bad, right? After all, that's like a flu-caused 9/11. Then again, the ordinary flu, that gives us the sniffles every year? That one kills several hundred thousand people around the world.