Au contraire, say the incrementally annoying Briscoe and Aldersey-Williams, ‘while bird flu has yet to claim a single human victim in Europe or the Americas, and has killed fewer than 300 people worldwide, it is perhaps worth adding that the familiar winter flu that nobody panics about claims at least 30,000 American and 12,000 British lives each year.’
Hmmph. How about terrorism, then? It’s clear if you go in a plane there’s every chance you’ll end up dead. There are security alerts everywhere and our governments are spending millions in an uphill struggle against the certainty of terrorists murdering innocent millions. No, say the out of order authors of Panicology: ‘In England and Wales, annual deaths from terrorism have been much lower than deaths from transport accidents (3000), falls (3000), drowning (200), poisoning (900), and suicide (over 3000) . . . It is pretty clear that, so long as you stay away from the world’s insurgent hotspots, the chances of being caught up in a terrorist event are minuscule.’
Friday, December 7, 2007
Asteroids, global warming, weapons of mass destruction. When should we start panicking about all of this? Never, say the authors of a new book called Panicology. The book, by two statisticians, Simon Briscoe and Hugh Aldersey-Williams, is reviewed in the latest London Review of Books by Andrew O'Hagan, who worries that we should be taking things like bird flu much more seriously:
Phew, so that's all right, then.