The avian flu chicken littles are still wrong

December 17, 2006  ·  Michael Fumento  ·  Weblog

Feathers flew in November of last year when the Weekly Standard ran as its cover piece my article, Fuss and Feathers: Pandemic Panic over the Avian Flu. My favorite question during a TV appearance: "Mr. Fumento, why are you the only one saying these things?" My answer: "I'm probably not; I'm just the only one you've bothered to bring onto your show." The current issue carries my follow-up, "The Chicken Littles Were Wrong: The Bird Flu Threat Flew the Coop. It explains that while the media hysteria has abated (for now), the effects linger on in the American psyche. A Harvard School of Public Health survey of adults who have children revealed that 44 percent think it "likely" or "somewhat likely" there will be "cases of bird flu among humans in the U.S. during the next 12 months." Less than a fifth of respondents considered it "not at all" likely. Further, an avian flu bureaucracy has become entrenched. Like all bureaucracies, it will fight to survive and thrive, egging on governments to provide ever more money.

The ensuing year not only has not brought the pandemic down upon us, it has brought to light considerably more evidence of why it's not an immediate threat and why whatever threat there is diminishes by the day. Health officials, the media, and their self-anointed experts (Definition of "media expert:" the more alarmist you are the greater your expertise) lied to us about AIDS, Ebola, SARS, and even avian flu back in 1997-98. Now we see they've lied again. We know there were people who knew better at the time because I exposed every one of these faux pandemics before the media got tired of them. So when are finally going to flip the channel on the panic-mongers and watch something more substantive -- like Paris Hilton's latest reality show?