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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Fear Fads

When I was a kid, I was always interested in the latest "fear fad", which in those days ranged from global cooling to population explosions to the world running out of coal/oil/copper/food. The big fear fads of the 1970s and 1980s faded, and were replaced by new fear fads: global warming, "peak oil" (now available with a bonus 1970s "Greatest Hits" CD), the obesity epidemic, bird flu, and a whole host of economic gloom & doom.

My tests for a "fear fad" include the following:

1. It's BIG. It will destroy civilization as we know it, or at least wipe out millions.
2. It's coming tomorrow and time can't be wasted in further study. ACTION IS DEMANDED NOW.
3. Those who question it are IN DENIAL. Psychological arguments as opposed to scientific arguments are always at the core of a fear fad.
4. It requires GOVERNMENT ACTION, at both the national and international level.

Like a broken clock being right twice per day, eventually one of the fear fads may come to pass. But until then, this post is worthwhile reading. As FDR said, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

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