Fear Sells: Ebola, ISIS and the Cult of Paranoia

James Israel, Fear Sells: Ebola, ISIS and the Cult of Paranoia

ISIS and Ebola fears are being stoked to the hilt for big ratings

Fear sells. It gets big ratings on TV, and can even get candidates elected.

So it’s no surprise that ISIS and Ebola fears are being stoked to the hilt. After all, they are easy subjects for racheting up the paranoia.

With ISIS, you’ve got a terrorist group rivaling and surpassing al-Qaeda, the former fear king, appearing seemingly out of nowhere, beheading, raping and marching their way through Syria, Iraq and Turkey. And they’ve got artillery! Mortars, anti-tank rockets, Humvees and armored troop carriers, machine guns and rifles and even Syrian warplanes. Of course, much of their arms are U.S.-made, given up to them by the retreating Iraq “army” that we had just spent years and billions of dollars “training.”

How did that work out for ya, America?

Then, you’ve got Ebola, a terrifying sickness that rots the flesh. How easy is that to use to whip up fear? All you need is a television network or two that eschews facts (which get in the way of their carefully programmed hype), and maybe a few newspapers and radio networks that are equally lax with the truth, and voilà! Paranoia!

The truth, of course, is that there is an ocean and a few countries between us and ISIS, and no, they are not invading from Mexico. And Ebola, while scary to think about, to be sure, does not spread easily. You actually have to have direct contact with someone’s bodily fluids to get infected, it is not airborne, and cannot spread through water or food.
According to the CDC:

Ebola is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth) with blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola.

Still, some folks seem to really love being scared by fictitious threats, and for those people, I recommend tuning into Fox “News” or listening to Rush Limbaugh. However, for healthier, more realistic things to fear, enjoy the Halloween spooks and goblins!

James Israel
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