Friday, September 15, 2006

The Popeye Syndrome

Today's fear spreading news story is about E. coli in bagged spinach. I was wondering when one of these stories was going to pop up and be a headline for days. CNN has been covering it none-stop since 5 this morning. They've had medical experts and doctors talk about the dangers of this bagged spinach. They've talked about how it can kill you. They've spread the fear that the government needed them to spread. I call it the Popeye Syndrome.
I was never one that fell victim to my mother telling me I had to eat my raw spinach. She never tried to trick me by telling me that I would be strong, like Popeye, if I ate it. This is mostly because my mom hated raw spinach and didn't want to put the burden on us. That is not to say that I didn't get similar stories about other vegetables. But because of that, I don't eat raw spinach. Cook it in something and I probably won't care. I definitely won't think about it killing me.
E. coli has become the number one reason to fear bacteria, as portrayed in the media. Basically, if you want to scare someone with death, mention E. coli. The real story here is that only 60 people have become sick after eating raw, bagged spinach. That's 60 people out of several million that probably eat raw, bagged spinach. So in my opinion, there is really nothing to worry about. If it really worries you, don't eat bagged spinach. It's gross anyway.
The Popeye Syndrome is just another example of how the media loves to sensationalize every thing. If someone dies after using a certain type of pencil, they dig and dig to find other dead users. And then the pencils were to blame. It is an ever increasing problem with 24-hour news station. They have too much time on their hands and this is the best way to fill up air time.
What really makes me sick is some of the things I heard this morning about the causes of the outbreak. One very conservative radio host mentioned it was probably because the illegal immigrants that picked the spinach didn't wash their hands. Why in the world does it matter what kind of workers picked the spinach? Why even make a statement like that? Hate would be a likely suspect. And stories like this can lead idiots making hateful comments and getting away with it. We need to take a minute and do our own research before we go crazy about what the news calls a dire situation. Usually, it's not.

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