When my older son was little, like many moms, I used to read him “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”. When, in a motherly “teaching moment”, I expressed concern to him about the outcome, he confidently replied, “It’s okay, Mommy. All you have to do is start the book again!”
He was around four or five at the time.
It makes me wonder if W.H.O., the CDC and others are operating at the intellectual maturity level of a five-year-old. Over and over and over they try and start the book again. Over and over and over, in an abundance of caution or “something”, they issue false alarms, whether it’s about swine flu, bird flu, SARS, even going so far as to apparently redefine “pandemic” in order to include H1N1 in the definition. (Here’s the latest potential over-reaction: “Is It Time To Prepare For H2N2?”)
Even if you give them the benefit of the doubt, it is a questionable policy, rife with lurking danger. For if there is ever a real mega threat, a skeptical and hysteria-weary public is unlikely to take heed.
When it’s your job to prepare the world for emergencies and prevent harm, the wise policy is to carefully pick your “crises” and not overuse or abuse the message. W.H.O. et al may have cried wolf so many times that in the event of a real emergency, no one will listen. And that could threaten us all.
“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” – Wendell Phillips (1811-1884), paraphrasing John Philpot Curran