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Fear Appeals


Fear mongering increases during 'Sweeps' periods (February, May, July, and ... Polly Klass, Amber Hagerman, Elizabeth Smart, Samantha Runnion ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Fear Appeals

Fear Appeals
  • Fear Mongering and the
  • Culture of Fear
  • "Its a campaign of fear and consumption…keep
    people afraid and theyll consume. Marilyn Manson

Scare tactics are common
  • Fear mongering increases during Sweeps periods
    (February, May, July, and November), when Nielson
    ratings are taken.
  • Sexual predators on myspace.com
  • Is household mold quietly killing you?
  • What your nail salon operator wont tell you.
  • Thongs and skin cancer! Film at 11.

Bird flu Death from Above?
  • bird flu is "a time bomb waiting to go off,"
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National
    Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases,
  • regarding a serious avian flu pandemic, Dr. Julie
    Gerberding stated "it's not a question of if,
    it's a question of when.
  • Dr. Julie Godlberg, director of the Centers for
    Disease Control and Prevention
  • "society just can't accept the idea that 50 of
    the population could die."
  • Dr. Robert Webster, virologist

Or media hype?
  • bird flu virus is still multiple mutations away
    from being able to pass easily among humans.
  • bird flu appears to be better absorbed by the
    deep pockets of bird lungs, whereas human flu is
    absorbed by the cells of our upper airways.
  • Dr. Marc Siegel, New York University School of
    Medicine, author of Bird Flu Everything You Need
    to Know About the Next Pandemic. Los Angeles
    Times, April 6, 2006
  • It is totally misleading" to suggest the flu
    virus in birds would inevitably mutate into a
    form that could be transmitted between humans.
    Sir David King, Chief Science Officer, Financial
    Times, London, April 10, 2006
  • There is no selective genetic pressure to
    drive H5N1 toward humans. It could just as
    easily move away.
  • Dr. Elizabeth Krushinskie, president of the
    American Assn. of Avian Pathologists,

Other exotic diseases
  • Mad cow disease
  • West Nile virus
  • Sars
  • Anthrax
  • Ebola
  • Flesh eating virus
  • Yet, no one has died from exposure to BSE within
    the U.S.
  • No one has died from bird flu in the U.S.

Political fear mongering
  • Terrorism, terrorist alerts
  • Social security
  • Illegal immigrants
  • Outsourcing of jobs to foreign countries

Pharmaceutical industry and fear mongering
  • Is the purple pill right for you?
  • Serafem for premenstrual dysphoric disorder
    (PMDD), (prozac for PMS)
  • Pharmaceutical firms claim they are empowering
    consumers by running ads
  • But are they creating unnecessary demand?
  • U.S. drug makers spend 2.5 times as much on
    marketing and administration as they do on
  • 75 percent of new drugs approved by the FDA are
    me-too drugs no better than drugs already on the
    market to treat the same condition.
  • Marcia Angell, former editor of the New England
    Journal of Medicine

Child abductions
  • High profile abductions spur fear
  • Polly Klass, Amber Hagerman, Elizabeth Smart,
    Samantha Runnion
  • News stories on child abductions have increased
    10-fold in the past five years
  • Abduction prevention is a big business
  • GPS tracking, DNA samples
  • The actual risk of a child being abducted and
    murdered is 1 in 1.3 million (Ropeak, 2005)
  • Child abductions have decreased in the past five
  • 75 of child abductions are not by strangers
    (e.g., they involve custody disputes)
  • By comparison, the risk of a child dying from the
    flu is 1 in 130,000.

Other fear-laden topics
  • school shootings
  • cell phones and brain cancer
  • identity theft
  • genetically engineered food
  • road rage
  • child abductions
  • sexual predators
  • violent crime

Selling the fear of fear
  • A number of popular best sellers decrying
    fear-mongering have appeared in print.

Keep the numbers in perspective
  • School shootings
  • Total school-related violent deaths, August 1,
    2005, July 31, 2007
  • Shooting 13 Suicides 6 
    Murder-Suicide 8
  • Fight-Related 1
  • Stabbing 4
  • Other               0
  • Total 27
  • Compared to drownings and car crashes
  • In 2003, 782 children ages 0 to 14 years died
    from drowning (CDC 2005).
  • In the United States during 2004, 1,638 children
    ages 14 years and younger died as occupants in
    motor vehicle crashes,

Keeping the numbers in perspective
  • 35,000 injuries per year from nail guns
  • Food allergy fatalities 100-200 per year
  • Bathtubs 337 fatalities
  • Dog bites 15 fatalities
  • Fireworks 13 fatalities
  • Hornets, wasps, and bees 46 fatalities 
  • Lightning 63 fatalities

Caveats and cautions
  • Use central processing when analyzing fear
  • Keep the numbers in perspective
  • Road rage 40 deaths per year versus failing to
    wear a seatbelt 9,200 preventable fatalities per
  • Shark attack 3 deaths per year in the U.S. versus
    skin cancer 8,000 cases per year
  • West Nile 100 deaths per year in the U.S., versus
    drowning in a bathtub 300 cases per year
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