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Posted November 17, 2005
¿It¿s all a matter of opinion.¿ How often have we heard this when we venture to suggest, say, that astrology is tosh? But are all opinions equally valid? Aren¿t some based on stronger evidence than others? Evidence is different from possibility. For example, the scaremongers at the New Scientist, the Independent, etc tell us that the AH5N1 avian flu virus could mutate into a virus transmissible to humans. Yes, it could. But how likely is it to do so? The lead editorial in the British Medical Journal of 29 October 2005 said, ¿The lack of sustained human-to-human transmission suggests that this AH5N1 avian virus does not currently have the capacity to cause a human pandemic. ¿ the appearance of a modified avian virus capable of triggering a human pandemic is unlikely: there have been more than 3300 flu outbreaks in birds with 150 million killed and only 118 human cases, and the disease in birds is proving containable with good surveillance and prompt action.¿ Focusing on mythical scares distracts us from real problems. This book cites the example of the scare about DDT, which led to its banning in the late 1960s. As a result, malaria, which the use of DDT had almost eliminated, kills, worldwide, three million people, mostly children, every year. This very useful book studies scare stories promoted in Britain about all sorts of things that, we¿re told, damage our health - British beef, salt, sugar, tap water, alcohol, non-organic food, the MMR vaccine, GM foods and sunshine. Given all these mortal scares, how come that generally we are living longer and healthier lives? Are our rulers promoting paranoia, trying to scare us into feeling too weak and helpless to resist them? Is the destruction of Britain¿s industry leading to hostility to science itself? To paraphrase President Franklin D. Roosevelt, perhaps the only epidemic we have to fear is fear itself.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.