The Eagle Blog

What We Worry About

I read an interesting Time article that talked about our propensity to worry about things that we really shouldn’t worry about, and not to worry so much about things we should!

Many people worry about the risk of accident and yet of the 2.5 million people who died in the US in 2003 only 4% died from accidents. On the other hand 2.3 million of those 2.5 million died from some sort of disease … with heart disease and cancer accounting for more than half of all deaths in the US.

Drawing from those conclusions one big disconnect identified is the concern about avian flu which has killed nobody in the US … on the other hand the regular flu kills 36,000 Americans each year, and still people avoid the flu shot!

Each year the cholesterol from the fatty foods we eat contribute to heart disease that kills 700,000 Americans annually, yet the fear of mad cow disease gets all the press. Nobody has died from mad cow disease, and the fast food industry continues to thrive.

Despite the obvious conclusions about what really kills people we continue to do things that are counter intuitive. We are concerned about flying yet we will drive our cars too fast, run red lights and avoid seat belts. The statistics suggest that about 44,000 Americans are killed in car accidents as opposed to maybe 100 in plane crashes.

We human beings are interesting creatures, and often the decisions we make, the concerns we have are not really based on hard facts or even good statistics. I wrote a blog some time ago about the kind of fears that sales people have which are not based on facts. Obviously a little different slant than this article but in some ways the same, an old English saying comes to mind: “There is nowt so queer as folk!” (Rough translation “People are strange”)


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11 thoughts on “What We Worry About

  1. Amen to that!

    Here is my theory, doing the things that lead to a long and healthy life can sometimes require a little work (going to the gym, making sure you have a healthy diet), or a little inconvenience (slowing down the car or buckling up) or a tiny bit of pain (flu shot). All minor when compared to the benefits. However, a more nihilistic view that “since the world is going to heck so why bother” means I needn’t go out of my way (I am not sure if this paraphrases the Time article as I did not read it)

  2. Amen to that!

    Here is my theory, doing the things that lead to a long and healthy life can sometimes require a little work (going to the gym, making sure you have a healthy diet), or a little inconvenience (slowing down the car or buckling up) or a tiny bit of pain (flu shot). All minor when compared to the benefits. However, a more nihilistic view that “since the world is going to heck so why bother” means I needn’t go out of my way (I am not sure if this paraphrases the Time article as I did not read it)

  3. There are always two sides to every story.

    We live in this country because we are allowed to CHOOSE how we want to go about our business. If I want to risk dying from the flu rather than the Avian flu that is my perogative. If I wish to suffer from Fast Food gluten rather than Mad Cow effects, again my choice. We are adults and can make the choices we want. Providing the flu shot at work is convenient for some and digusting for others.

    People will always worry, whether it is about getting fired from Eagle or driving home in a torrential storm. Leave it be…

  4. There are always two sides to every story.

    We live in this country because we are allowed to CHOOSE how we want to go about our business. If I want to risk dying from the flu rather than the Avian flu that is my perogative. If I wish to suffer from Fast Food gluten rather than Mad Cow effects, again my choice. We are adults and can make the choices we want. Providing the flu shot at work is convenient for some and digusting for others.

    People will always worry, whether it is about getting fired from Eagle or driving home in a torrential storm. Leave it be…

  5. this country may be free but the services required to care for us are not, nor is the cost to indivudals who end up sick or injured as a result of another person’s “free will”.

    I am sure there are many people who have alternative views on the flu shot and take other measures to ensure they are healthy and in turn are able to protect other vulnerable members of society from getting sick.

    However, I am going to go out on a limb and say the majority of people who do not take an ounce of prevention over the pound of cure -are just not thinking about how their actions impact other members of their community

  6. this country may be free but the services required to care for us are not, nor is the cost to indivudals who end up sick or injured as a result of another person’s “free will”.

    I am sure there are many people who have alternative views on the flu shot and take other measures to ensure they are healthy and in turn are able to protect other vulnerable members of society from getting sick.

    However, I am going to go out on a limb and say the majority of people who do not take an ounce of prevention over the pound of cure -are just not thinking about how their actions impact other members of their community

  7. Interesting that the focus became the flu shot! The original article and my comments were much more general in nature, and the fact that as human beings we sometimes focus on the wrong things!

    Yes … people will always worry, and about irrational stuff … but it is also OK to talk about that strange side of the human psyche. Maybe someone somewhere will rethink their priorities, and have one less worry.

    PS. I was a little taken aback that anyone could consider it “disgusting” that the flu shot is offered in the office!

  8. Interesting that the focus became the flu shot! The original article and my comments were much more general in nature, and the fact that as human beings we sometimes focus on the wrong things!

    Yes … people will always worry, and about irrational stuff … but it is also OK to talk about that strange side of the human psyche. Maybe someone somewhere will rethink their priorities, and have one less worry.

    PS. I was a little taken aback that anyone could consider it “disgusting” that the flu shot is offered in the office!

  9. While we look at the worries that people have, and sometimes the misperceptions inherent in society ,it should be worth noting that the subtleties in presentation can also bias a readers opinion.

    The original post states that “only” 4%, or 200,000 people died from accidents, but then the post tries to establish 36,000 people that die of the flu, or even the 44,000 people that die of car accidents as statistically relevant. The flu to me is a minor, almost negligible concern – the potential threat of a pandemic flu, such as avian, is much more serious, even if no one to-date has died directly from it (based on the sample in the post). It is similar to the limited versus unlimited liability in business – I’m not worried about something tied to only 1.4% of deaths in the US (or .0012% of all Americans), I’m concerned with something that could cause the number of deaths in the US to skyrocket and potentially decimate the society.

    I do agree with the blogger on one thing – “the concerns we have are not really based on hard facts or even good statistics”. Why worry about the flu, that costs only 36,000 lives in the US last year, and continue to eat trans-fatty foods (good for NYC in passing zero-trans-fat legislation), not exercise and expect a magical cure to medical ailments. Eat better, exercise more and be cognizant of your surroundings and you’ll avoid the flu, the cold and most other contagious things.

    For the record, I’ve gone through 6 years of University, 15 years of working and taken 0 sick days off in my life and never had a flu shot. I do not believe that the flu shot is statistically relevant, since the flu itself is statistically irrelevant and the money spent here to help big business would be better spent on enacting legislation for 0 trans-fat foods and government tax credits for physical exercise/preventative programmes.

  10. While we look at the worries that people have, and sometimes the misperceptions inherent in society ,it should be worth noting that the subtleties in presentation can also bias a readers opinion.

    The original post states that “only” 4%, or 200,000 people died from accidents, but then the post tries to establish 36,000 people that die of the flu, or even the 44,000 people that die of car accidents as statistically relevant. The flu to me is a minor, almost negligible concern – the potential threat of a pandemic flu, such as avian, is much more serious, even if no one to-date has died directly from it (based on the sample in the post). It is similar to the limited versus unlimited liability in business – I’m not worried about something tied to only 1.4% of deaths in the US (or .0012% of all Americans), I’m concerned with something that could cause the number of deaths in the US to skyrocket and potentially decimate the society.

    I do agree with the blogger on one thing – “the concerns we have are not really based on hard facts or even good statistics”. Why worry about the flu, that costs only 36,000 lives in the US last year, and continue to eat trans-fatty foods (good for NYC in passing zero-trans-fat legislation), not exercise and expect a magical cure to medical ailments. Eat better, exercise more and be cognizant of your surroundings and you’ll avoid the flu, the cold and most other contagious things.

    For the record, I’ve gone through 6 years of University, 15 years of working and taken 0 sick days off in my life and never had a flu shot. I do not believe that the flu shot is statistically relevant, since the flu itself is statistically irrelevant and the money spent here to help big business would be better spent on enacting legislation for 0 trans-fat foods and government tax credits for physical exercise/preventative programmes.

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