10. Water Fluoridation
Back in the 1950s water fluoridation was, for some, a big thing. A very big thing. We had the threat of communism. We had the threat of “The Bomb.” And then, according to some, we had the related threat of fluoridation.
It is not our purpose here to cover all the arguments pro and con that put this, or any of the other 10 “awful, terrible, frightening things that are going to kill us all,” on our list. But to point out that none of them yet has. There has to be a lesson (or maybe a few) in this.
One is that there are many things on this earth that are dangerous. As movie gangsters used to say, “No one gets out’a here alive!”
There are many things that are poisonous to us if we are exposed to them in large quantities. But, interestingly, some of those very same things prove beneficial when we are exposed to them in smaller amounts.
For example, swallow a whole bottle of aspirin and it will make you sick, or may even kill you. But taking a prescribed dose of two tablets after, say, a protracted discussion about the dangers of water fluoridation and the secret cabal supposedly behind it can do wonders.
(Okay, so where did I put that aspirin bottle?)
9. The Red Dye Scare
The red dye scare has been around now for several decades. In 1976 the confection maker Mars removed the red-colored M&Ms from that popular candy, not because they contained the then-feared “Red Dye #2,” but because some frightened mothers might have thought they did. The clamor against Red Dye #2 induced the Food and Drug Administration to carry out extensive testing, which produced inconclusive results in regard to humans. However, because they determined that very large amounts of the dye may induce malignant tumors in female rats the dye was banned.
Today, it is Red Dye #40 that has people in a fright. Could the dye be the cause of the misbehavior of their children? Some mothers think so and they want Red Dye #40 banned as well. Testing thus far has not confirmed the danger.
The author can but salute the conscientious parent who searches for, and looks to remedy, the cause of their child’s misbehavior. However, he also has to candidly admit that he occasionally enjoys a red M&M.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1aqElG7rm0
8. The Teflon Cookware Scare
Cookware is scary stuff! In the 1930s some people were convinced that senile dementia – i.e., “senility” — was caused by people using aluminum pots and pans. Today it’s the Teflon variety that has people scared silly.
The culprit, some say, is a chemical called “perfluorooctanoic acid,” or PFOA – the material that is used to bind the non-stick coating to the pan. But others point out that the PFOA is almost entirely eliminated by the extreme temperatures used in the manufacturing process, and what little remains is so permanently bound to the Teflon it cannot get into the food being cooked. Once again we’re left to decide for ourselves which argument is the correct one.
The author admits to having, on several occasions, been nearly scared to death by what came out of a friend’s kitchen. But that had nothing to do with the type of cookware used in its preparation.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SiVN3nnyjE4
7. The Evil Dangers of Masturbation
Okay, listing masturbation as being among the “awful, terrible, frightening things that threaten to kill us all” is a bit of an exaggeration. Apart from it being seen as a moral danger, generally the worst that people have claimed (and that, for generations) is that “masturbation will make you go blind.”
But blindness is a pretty awful thing. Thus our inclusion of masturbation on this list.
Here is the one case where the author is going to go out on a limb and simply declare the claim to be false. Masturbation does not cause blindness.
In fairness, proof should always be provided, so here it is…. On the count of five will every reader who has been blinded by the evil of masturbation please reach up and turn off your monitor.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1
6. The Cell Phones Cancer Scare
Cell phones are everywhere. Business people use them constantly. Most adults these days use them. So do many kids. Can they really be causing cancer?
Some people say so, and say so loudly. They cite research that supposedly supports that conclusion. Others, however, point to studies that find no statistical relationship between cell phone usage and cancer — much less a proven causal relationship.
As is the case with most such scares the abundance of evidence is anecdotal. “I was diagnosed with a tumor and I used a cell phone. That proves it!”
Does it? With all the cell phone usage you’d think that if the phones were causing cancer it’d become clear pretty quickly.(I’d love to write more on this fascinating subject, but you’ll have to excuse me while I take a call.)
5. Global Cooling
Yeah, you read that right — “global cooling.” Back in the 1970s we were warned about it over and over again, that our entire way of life would perish if nothing was done about it.
Wrote Newsweek magazine in their April 8, 1975 issue:
Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change, or even to allay its effects. They concede that some of the more spectacular solutions proposed, such as melting the Arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot or diverting arctic rivers, might create problems far greater than those they solve. But the scientists see few signs that government leaders anywhere are even prepared to take the simple measures … (and) the longer the planners delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality.
Well, at least scientists back then had a solution to suggest: “melting the Arctic ice cap.” One rarely hears that today.
Just that word – “fracking” — is enough to scare a person witless. And there is no shortage of people who say it should. Pumping water mixed with sand and chemicals deep beneath the earth’s surface is hardly a natural thing. But, of course, neither was sending men below the earth’s surface to dig out coal, steel, or, for that matter, precious gems. Yet those activities, because they have been around for quite a while, have come to be seen as “normal.” Will fracking – the hydraulic fracturing of the shale rock to release natural gas –eventually be seen the same way? Only time will tell.
Whatever the case, that word – “fracking” — is still scary. As are the forecasts of imminent doom that awaits us if we pursue it.
It is a good thing that we’ve heard “the end is nigh” forecast on so many occasions and for so many reasons. That should, if nothing else, give us pause to think and learn before we run off screaming, arms waving in the air.
3. The Vaccine “Fraud”
You like shots? I don’t like shots. Oh, how I don’t like shots!
Back in 1955, when I was eight years old, I was “volunteered” by my parents to be among the Salk polio vaccine test subjects. I got three painful, arm-swelling shots only to be told, a few months later, that the shots had been “dummies” – the ones that did nothing. I had to have the entire series of three shots all over again! Boy was I mad!
What would have really been terrible would have been if I had contracted polio during the test period. Enough “dummy” vaccine recipients did and enough kids who had gotten the real vaccine didn’t that the vaccine was judged safe and effective. Since that time, due to the vaccine, the scourge of polio has pretty much disappeared from America. As has the scourges of small pox, diphtheria, and a host of other horrendous diseases.
Ah, but at what cost? Nothing, after all, is ever free.
Well, except for all the advice people have been giving about the terrible “danger” (and uselessness) of vaccines.
Again, make up your own mind.
In 1968 Professor Paul Ehrlich released the book The Population Bomb. In it he wrote:
The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.
Oddly, it never came to pass. In fact, quite the opposite occurred. Advances in agricultural sciences and methods allowed for an unpredicted increase in food production. Equally unpredicted were social changes that occurred within many societies that have led to a new fear: the disappearance of many nations as they are known today due to rapidly shrinking populations.
Why is such reduction of population a concern? Well, along with the loss of some cultures that have given so much to humanity, there is a more practical problem: who is going to be left to care for those nations’ aging population?
Maybe we should have enlarged this list to the “Top 11” and included underpopulation among them.
1. The Earth Running out of Natural Resources
Have you ever run out of bread or milk when all the shops were closed? Scary, wasn’t it? Now imagine that happening world-wide. That is what the “we are running out of resources” crowd has been predicting for quite a few years.
The first such predictor was likely Thomas Malthus, back in the 18th century. More recently the “we’re running out” chorus has grown.
In the 1970s the Club of Rome – a “think tank” made up of UN bureaucrats, politicians, scientists, economists and business leaders — predicted that massive shortages of natural resources would soon be upon us. Oil, precious metals – really everything modern society depends upon – would soon simply run out.
It hasn’t happened. In fact, many of the things on their list of soon-to-run-out resources are today seen to be in greater supply than when the Club of Rome’s predictions were made. Advances in engineering and discovery are two of the reasons. That, and the fact that when one resource starts to become rare (and thus expensive) more people go looking to find it, while other people are looking for ways to do without it.
Yes, people are funny that way.
But there are two things mankind never need fear running out of: newly perceived threats and having enough fear-mongers to spread the bad news.
Author’s note: The fact is none of the “10 awful, terrible, frightful things” on this list has yet wiped every human being off the earth, but that does not mean none ever will. And if that ever does occur, the author promises to write a full retraction, along with an apology, at the very first opportunity.
image illustration via shutterstock / Fer Gregory