“Millions Irrationally Feared Dead in Minor Train Accident” – The Onion

Readers — Sometimes I need a break, as I’m sure you do too. And what could be better than a snippet from The Onion reminding us just how driven the news media and  “experts” can be when it comes to whipping up fear? Enjoy!  

27 Responses

  1. It’s funny the way it is de rigueur to call family immediately, even at odd times of the day, if they are anywhere near a disaster, even if the death or injury toll is so small that the odds of them being personally affected are tiny (and when in fact they are far more likely to have been struck down by something unconnected).
    Oh well, it’s good to keep in touch, whatever the pretext.

  2. Myriam, right on. I had an Internet friend who were relieved to hear from me on 9/11 because I live in Western Pennsylvania.

    Four hours from Shanksville. (This was before it was known that the plane hit an open field, early on when details were sparse.) I was far more likely to have got into a car accident taking my son to school that morning.

  3. I❤ the Onion.

  4. Love it

  5. Thanks for that laugh!

  6. OH NO! My cousin was in the same hemisphere as that train! What to do, what to do??

    Ah, well, I never liked him anyway,😛

  7. The Onion. The most unreliable and yet somehow most honest news site out there.

  8. The Onion is a blast, but some people just don’t know or get that it’s humor. Check out Literally Unbelievable (http://literallyunbelievable.org/) for screen caps of Facebook entries from people who take Onion articles seriously.

  9. The Onion is great! Thanks for posting that story.

  10. LOL! You know what they say, the most funny jokes are the ones that people can relate to. This isn’t really that far fetch considering all the irrational fears people DO have these days, based on what they hear on the news. “My brother lives in California, but he takes the train all the time. And I’m afraid he might have gone to Delaware…” LOL!

  11. breaking news….

  12. L just letting you know that this blog has helped me approach anxiety that I thought was normal. Instead fears are being put on check…crazy woman that I am…I let my 3 kids ages 14-13-7 walk a mile to the pool while mom and dad worked. At dinner that night, the event got rated the best day ever simply because they were in charge and responsible for their well being to a higher level of trust. So thank you and keep on saying the truth.

  13. I was born in Maryland, which is next to Delaware, so I fear I may be dead. Will some please call me to be sure?

  14. LOL @ oncefallen… oh dear.

    My MIL was like this. She once saw that there’d been a pile-up in LA, and called about 7 million times to make sure we were alive. We lived an hour south of Oregon, and were in school that day. Of course this was the same woman who cried because she couldn’t send us a Christmas tree – she wasn’t sure we could get one where we lived. Okay, ummm… there’s still somewhere in this country you CAN’T get a tree, and ummm… we lived in the freaking woods!!! LOL

  15. You’ve probably already seen this, but I thought it was an excellent article. I especially like the last line.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/19/science/19tierney.html?_r=2

  16. I’ll take sudden organ failure for $300, Alex.

    Part of the blame for this can be placed on the news media for repeatedly showing “action pictures” from a small part of any crisis and not the boring rest of it.

    I was traveling in the midwest and east this June and had to keep saying, “No, we live in the 113,000 square miles of Arizona that is NOT in flames” because pictures of the hotshot crews cutting down flaming pine trees is all they were showing.

    Mexico City TV, after the 1985 earthquake, is almost the only media I have heard of that sent out crews to get pictures of the unaffected areas to broadcast.

  17. I had the fortune of listening to Lenore yesterday on NPR and I was so impressed with her inspite of the angry and rude demeanor of the host Michelle Martin..

    I love it when people confront bullies in any venue

  18. I am an American living in Australia – Sydney, specifically. When there was the flooding in Queensland or the big bushfires in Victoria, my mother and I got so many concerned emails about my well being… except those places are hundreds of miles from where I live! (Australia may have a small population, but geographically it’s close to the size of the contiguous United States.)

  19. The Onion in print was my main source of humor in college. It’s been cracking me up for over a decade. That was a good one!

  20. The recent German E-coli epidemic happened in Hamburg, in the extreme north of Germany. I live in the very south, about 700-800 km away. But that didn’t stop friends and relatives asking if my family was affected. We explained that it’s like asking if someone in San Diego was affected by something that happened in Portland.

  21. Ahhhh… thanks for the sweet break. Nothing like a good laugh to keep reality sane.

  22. @Greg Thrasher – thanks for the tip! I just listened to the segment on NPR, and I agree with your assessment. Lenore was as cool as a cucumber under pressure, even when Michel got oddly testy. She did a great job defending free-range thinking and presenting the facts in context!

  23. I just now remembered the story of friends of mine who decided to move to Illinois in 2002, just around the time there had been a rash of pipe bombs sent in the mail (no one was killed, but a few people were injured.) The wife’s mother freaked out and told them they couldn’t move there because it was too dangerous. Naturally, their new home wasn’t anywhere near where the events had occurred.

    Okay, the woman was irrational on a lot of levels and abusive from what I understand, but she had raised her family in a pretty rough section of the city where a lot worse things were more likely to happen than being hit by a mail bomb because you were in the STATE where they had occurred.

  24. I think Michele just wanted to emphasize that it is normal, not “horrible” or “foolish” to feel certain emotional reactions over a case like Leiby Kletzky.

    But if she was really familiar with Lenore, she’d know that Lenore is quite clear on that point — of course it’s normal to worry, to wonder, to hesitate, even when you haven’t recently been faced with such a horror story, and all the more when you have, but when you are trying to decide what’s actually best for your kids, you have to include rational risk analysis, not just those feelings. So Lenore didn’t really need to be told that, and she wasn’t advocating having no feelings in response to such situations.

  25. Tsu– “Part of the blame for this can be placed on the news media for repeatedly showing “action pictures” from a small part of any crisis and not the boring rest of it.”

    Me– That’s how the Columbine School shootings became filled with so many legends. There was no “trenchcoat mafia,” the shooters were not school nerds bullied by the popular as they were rather well liked though anti-social, and the girl credited for expressing belief in God before being shot for it was not the right one. Initial reports are incomplete but lasting.

  26. I have never heard of The Onion…and at first I thought WOW! But slowly, as it went on, I figured it out. Thanks for sharing, this is hysterical…and unfortunately so true!

  27. I am one of the dead, but I can still comment. My mom is dead, and she is watching The Bachelorette on TV right now.

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