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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Why Does Fear Sell So Well?

You are watching your favorite tv program when, during a commercial, the local weatherman interjects, "Will it snow? We'll see at 11:00!" If he gives any indication that it might snow people rush to the grocery stores to buy bread, milk and water. Have you ever thought that maybe the grocery stores pay the weathermen to say it's going to snow?

We react to bad news as gospel. If someone says that the banks are going out of business we will remove our money. If we hear a report that says the earth is likely to be hit by a large meteorite, we will start worrying. It doesn't matter that the FDIC has insured our money or that we haven't had a meteorite of this size hit the earth for millions of years. We will start giving money to protect ourselves. We will support legislation that will do so too.

I understand the media. "If it bleeds it leads," is their motto. They know that fear and carnage will get people to watch. They are in it for the money. (Not for the public's right to know) Their ratings determine how much they make.

I understand the politicians. They know that a people who feel threatened will turn to someone who gives some evidence that he or she can protect them. Politicians sell this in a big way. "You need me," they claim and ask, "where would you be without me?" A whole lot richer ought to be our response!

I don't understand us. Why are we so afraid? Is it because we don't do our own research and don't know the real truth? Do we have a sense of impending doom that is embedded in our souls? Does any information of disaster just confirm our fears?

From now on I choose to do my own research. I will not be suckered in by media or politicians into thinking the sky is falling simply because they say so. I will not make fearful decisions based on the popular view of science but take into account other research. I will investigate global warming (Saying this on a day when cold temperatures in the Northeast will reach the record lows of 1972 when the climatologists were telling us we were going into another ice age is not so brave.), nuclear energy, the amount of oil remaining in the world, the quality of my drinking water and other things I have been told to be afraid of.

Fear sells so well because we don't do this. We accept what we have heard. We believe the politicians. Why do we do this? This is a greater mystery.

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