Posts Tagged media
So if tainted celery is worthy of attention on CNN home page as soon as news of these deaths is released, what does it take to get that attention for 20,000 deaths within 8 months?
Why isn’t public attention about the cause of 20,000 deaths on every media outlet, all the time? Where is the demand to prevent this? (We have pretty good idea actually, will discuss in future post.)
We don’t accept 4 deaths from a food source. Nor should we. Business operations are shut down when this happens. The source of the fatalities is destroyed, pulled from shelves and eradicated, immediately, as much as possible.
In contrast, we passively accept 20,000 deaths from another source of fatalities. Not only do we not demand preventive action, effective prevention is actively thwarted by some beliefs and behaviors.
While France is currently rioting enough to disrupt a country’s operations over a 2 years’ delay to retirement benefits (not that I agree with that uproar, I’m just making a connection), I ask you to consider this contrast that boggles my mind…
We don’t accept 4 deaths from celery, but we accept 30,000+ deaths a year from car crashes in the U.S.
That’s unacceptable to accept, but U.S. society does and that’s a culture to change.
It was a murder mystery. That’s how New York Times journalist Matt Richtel, who won a Pulitzer Prize this year for his reporting on cell phones and distracted driving, described the series of articles. After reading his writings for over a year, we heard him speak and share background stories about the special series at a conference this week.
This murder mystery angle got me thinking about public health and injustice and personal responsibility. In public health we usually seek to reduce and erase injustices. However so many issues, such as car crashes, are incorrectly pegged as issues of only personal responsibility.
Matt’s investigation into how a fatal crash involving texting happened took him decades into the past when cell phones were first created as car phones. Then he traced a path through industry and government decisions to the present, where we now lose thousands of people a year in crashes involving cell phones. He showed how distracted driving could be a true public health issue of injustice.
For those who think the issue is only one of personal responsibility, you need to trace what led to people’s personal decisions about using cell phones in vehicles.
Cartoon from National Safety Council
Great article from the NY Times: Keeping Kids Safe From the Wrong Dangers, which discusses how people buy organic vegetables to reduce their risk of serious or fatal chronic disease, yet while driving home from shopping trips they check email on their cell phone at red lights. The perception of risk is a little whacked.
More evidence of misperception of biggest risks shared in the article: The five things most likely to cause injury up until age 18, according to the CDC, are car crashes, homicide (usually not by a stranger), child abuse, suicide and drowning. But the five things parents worry about most are kidnapping, school snipers, terrorists, dangerous strangers and drugs, according to the Mayo Clinic.
We tend to overestimate the rare dangers — encouraged somewhat by what the media deems newsworthy — and we underestimate the dangers we should be thinking about.
Did you know:
- Car crashes are the #1 cause of death from age 3 to 34.
- They’re the #1 cause of workplace death.
- Most car crashes occur within a few miles of home.
So why do we worry about terrorists more than car crashes? The book Innumeracy by John Allan Paulos is an easy and enjoyable explanation of one reason why.