An interesting take on swine flu panic

I read a piece today, “In a crisis, knowledge is not power” authored by the Brisbane Institute’s Dr Martin Leet. Some very interesting points made so I thought I’d share it. Some excerpts for the time-challenged:

  • While it is understandably a concern, the spectre of “swine flu” also demonstrates just how easy it is to whip up hysteria in contemporary society. Constant updates, often issued with an alarmist tone, force the subject upon people. The media dramatises every latest development, even when that development is scarcely noticeable. Amid the warnings of catastrophe, we occasionally hear that swine flu may simply be a variation on the constantly mutating virus to be dealt with every year, probably no more menacing than the normal flu. Swine flu is undoubtedly a worry, but it is very difficult to find a sense of proportion about it while frenzied confusion reigns.
  • In the effort to cover every angle, give a voice to every perspective, and attend to any and every piece of information, all that is amassed is an extremely jumbled picture of what is actually happening. […] There is a hypervigilance involved in the responses to these and many other issues. Whenever something happens, it is immediately documented, analysed and critiqued ad infinitum. This process is probably driven by a fear that we will be unable to cope unless we amass every piece of available data. But hypervigilance really amounts to an incapacity to think and act clearly, and it has become a characteristic feature of contemporary culture. Its roots lay, paradoxically, in the modern pursuit of knowledge and science, which was heralded as a way of freeing people from superstition and ignorance.
  • It is often said that knowledge is power. But we are overburdened with knowledge and information, rather than being freed or empowered by it.
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