Americans are panicking over Ebola, and authorities are concerned not just to stem the disease but to stem the panic. They are saying the chances of any of us actually dying of Ebola is microscopically low, that we are more likely to die of a shark attack, bee stings, or falling out of bed. Alexandra Petri says that if that’s true, we need to panic over those other things too!
From Alexandra Petri, The cure for our Ebola panic is more panic – The Washington Post:
Now people are saying we need to calm down. That this panic is doing more harm than good. That, in the scheme of things, we (in America, anyway) are far less likely to contract Ebola than to be killed by lightning, bees or sharks. People say this as though it is reassuring.
Frankly, it is the opposite. If you want me to calm down, do not tell me about other things that are more likely to kill me. That is not how this works.
“Relax,” NPR says. “Your chance of contracting Ebola this year in America is just 1 in 13.3 million.” You are not only more likely to be killed by a shark than by Ebola — the odds of shark death were, according to UK scientists in 2008, 300,000,000 to 1 — you are more likely to be killed by a falling coconut (250,000,000 to 1), though I could be misreading these statistics. (I am very nervous and excitable these days and it is hard to comprehend data in this state.)
I guess what they want is for us to look at these statistics and conclude that we are panicking too much about Ebola.
I say: WHERE IS THE COCONUT PANIC?
It’s only reasonable. If the odds of contracting Ebola in the USA are as comparatively slim as people say, this does not mean that we are too panicked about Ebola.
This means we are not panicking enough about everything else.Look at all the other things that could take us out when we least expect it. The CDC has tables and tables of them, just waiting for us to seize them in our clammy hands. Operations of war and their sequelae. Events of Undetermined Intent. (The titles alone are terrifying!) Snake bites. Food poisoning. Falling out of bed. Using a right-handed product as a left-handed person (this claims multiple lives every year!) Bees.
Why aren’t we panicking about bees? If this is true, and CNN isn’t constantly plastered with coverage of NEW HIVES DISCOVERED IN NEIGHBOR’S BACK YARD, it’s clear that there are sinister forces at work and the government is in the pocket of Big Bee.
If the president, the head of the CDC, and the mayor of New York City have to go on record saying that the Ebola Situation Is Under Control, why isn’t the president constantly addressing us about sharks? They are a MUCH GREATER THREAT!
Where is the Bed Czar? Do you know how many people die by falling out of bed each year? I sleep in a bed every night. Should I be allowed to do that? Can’t we find a cure for beds, like maybe some sort of mat or low-slung cushion? And don’t get me started on drowning in the bath. Why are we still allowing dozens, if not hundreds, of Americans to bathe every year?
We need to panic about slippery floors and insecure railings and unlocked guns around the home. We need to panic about bears. We need to panic about above-ground pools. We need to panic about the Grand Canyon and peanuts and doing anything on a roof, ever. We need to panic about leaving the house. We need to panic about staying inside the house. We need to panic about sequelae and events of undetermined intent.
We should also panic about hypertension, although I’m not sure how that will work, exactly.