FOURTEENTH ANNUAL CELEBRATION OF THE ABSURD:
National Anxiety Center (Alan Caruba, Founder)
"MOST DUBIOUS NEWS SYORIES OF THE YEAR" ANNOUNCED
A NEWS RELEASE:
28 W. Third St., Suite 1321, South Orange, NJ 07079
(973) 763-6392 ~ www.anxietycenter.com
FULL STORY: Most Dubious News Stories of 2004:
South Orange, NJ -- “Various groups and individuals claiming to be protecting humans, animals, or the entire Earth managed to make complete fools of themselves in 2004,” said Alan Caruba, founder of The National Anxiety Center, a clearinghouse for information on scare campaigns.
Founded in 1990, the Center has issued its 14th annual review of “The Most Dubious News Stories of the Year.” The news media was “pleased to report the end of the world, despite evidence that the 4.5 billion year old planet was behaving the same as always, as is the case of the human race.”
In August, Reuters reported, “The bad news is that tens of millions of people along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States and Canada may drown if the slow slippage of a volcano off North Africa becomes a cataclysmic collapse. But the good news is that the world is not likely to be destroyed by an asteroid any time soon.” It helps, said Caruba, if you read the third paragraph of the story, in which it was noted that this is predicted to occur “’sometime in the next few thousand years’. Scientists with a yearning to become famous know a good disaster prediction will always get attention.”
In a similar fashion, in a July edition of The New York Times, it was reported that “The collapse of the Earth’s magnetic field, which both guards the planet and guides many of its creatures, appears to have started in earnest about 150 years ago.” The good news is that, when the main field weakens, it then reappears with opposite polarity. “ Once again, one had to read further into the report to learn that “the public has no reason to panic” because “it might take 2,000 years to mature.”
Proving that “idiots tend to cluster together,” said Caruba, in January, Al Gore, rumored to have been Vice President of the United States, selected the coldest day in a half century of New England weather records to declare that global warming was the result of “Bush policies (that) are leading to weather extremes.” Not to be outdone, an October Florida billboard campaign by Scientists and Engineers for Change and Environment 2004 claimed that the hurricanes the state experienced were President Bush’s fault. They were joined by the NAACP’s National Voter Fund, which warned, “minorities (are) more heavily impacted by environmental threats” than other groups.
However, in June, for those who are still worried about global warming, scientists in Berlin announced they had developed a serum to reduce methane gas that results from the burping and farting of sheep, cows, and other ruminants, in order to combat the flatulence said to contribute to global warming.
“Just when you think that things couldn’t get worse,” said Caruba, “the prestigious think tank, the Rand Corporation, announced in September that living in the suburbs could kill you, attributing high blood pressure, arthritis, headaches, and breathing difficulties to life in the suburbs. Don’t even think about living in cities.” You had to read their study carefully to learn that it provides only “some initial support” to the claims and that the study was only in a “very early stage.” This is, says Caruba, a nice way of saying they lacked any substantial data to support the claim.
In June, Imre Feges, a Hungarian scientist affiliated with the University of Szeged, announced that mobile phones may damage men’s sperm. Happily, fertility experts dismissed the study as inconclusive. Cell phones, electricity transmission systems, and just about everything associated with modern life are routinely declared to be a threat to humanity, says the Center. “It is not yet known whether the birth rate in Hungary is in free fall or not,” said Caruba.
“Lest it be forgotten that the stupidest laws found anywhere tend to originate in California, in February, a San Francisco Democrat, John Burton, announced he would introduce legislation to ban the production of pate foie gras in that State. “Animal rights advocates, when not vandalizing research laboratories and threatening people trying to find a cure for diseases afflicting humans and animals, took time to laud the legislator,” said Caruba. Not to be outdone, in New Jersey, the second bear hunt in more than thirty years was called off in December. An estimated 3,600 bears roam the most heavily populated state that is also home to huge herds of deer and vast flocks of Canadian Geese. “So much for the claim that urban spawl is displacing animals,” said Caruba.
Finally, an earlier report in the Wall Street Journal that diet-guru, Robert Atkins, had been obese at the time of his death was refuted by a February report in USA Today that revealed the six-foot-tall Atkins was a trim 195 pounds when he died at age 72 in 2003. Similar claims about obesity, made by the Center for Disease Control, were retracted when the CDC admitted its arithmetic was off by 200 percent, having extrapolated on all manner of reasons for dying and hastily concluding obesity was a major factor.
“Lights, bells, and sirens should go off whenever you read a report in the media that the Earth is doomed, serious global warming is real, the forests are disappearing, the oceans are rising excessively, or any of the other claims intended to frighten people are reported,” said Caruba. “The good news is that the bad news is almost always wrong.”
The News Media & Political Bias
The National Anxiety Center maintains an Internet site at www.anxietycenter.com. Caruba writes a weekly column, “Warning Signs,” posted on the site and excerpted widely on many others. In 2003, a collection of his columns was published by Merril Press.
Contact: Alan Caruba (973) 763-6392.
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