Why do people panic about an unknown disease ?
Category: Op/EdBy: john-russell • 7 months ago • 47 comments
Feb 03, 2020 · At least 19 million people have come down with the flu in the U.S. with 180,000 ending up in the hospital, according to the Centers for Disease Control and …
That is an article from CNBC a few weeks ago. 10,000 Americans have died from the yearly flu so far this winter. Although some experts say numbers like that are greatly overstated, it is probably fair to say that many Americans die from the regular flu every year.
Yet, generally, people do not fear the flu and certainly there is never a discernible "panic" about it.
Yet, a new virus comes along that presents flu like symptoms in the afflicted, and suddenly a "panic" is on the horizon if not already on the doorstep. The stock market is floundering, events are being cancelled (Facebook just canceled a big internal event) and the media is starting to demonstrate hyper concern.
Why is this so?
I think the fear of coronavirus can be attributed to pop culture. Human beings are trained to be afraid of the unknown, and to a certain extent trained to enjoy being afraid of things beyond our control. An epidemic of an exotic disease falls into a "boogeyman" category of the unknown, like zombies and monsters and nuclear war and maniac serial killers.
One of Stephen King's most popular novels is about an epidemic
The Stand is a postapocalyptic horror/fantasy novel by American author Stephen King. It expands upon the scenario of his earlier short story "Night Surf", and presents a detailed vision of the total breakdown of society after the accidental release of a strain of influenza that had been modified for biological warfare causes an apocalyptic pandemic, killing off over 99% of the world's population . Published in 1978, The Stand is the fourth and longest novel King published.
And of course there have been many movies dealing with plague like spread of disease, such as Contagion, Outbreak, World War Z, and 12 Monkeys.
We still feel there'll be outbreaks in the future which we can't avoid. This theme was used in movies from dramas to thrillers. We put together 22 of them that will make you appreciate how valuable being healthy is. The movies are listed according to their IMDb ratings. Enjoy the …
Such thoughts are part of the culture and have to do with primeval fears of losing control and not being able to make sense of one's existence.
One note I find interesting - a flu epidemic in 1918 infected 500,000,000 people world wide, and killed 50,000,000. Yet we hardly ever hear the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-19 used as a reference point for comparisons to any modern epidemics.
Is there basis for widespread fear about coronavirus? My personal feeling is that it is overblown, but I am watching and wondering like everyone else.