In his latest Fox News.com column “Junk Science,” Steven Milloy recounts the “science” (snicker) of Mad Cow Disease and its entertaining media hysteria, such that:
Front-page coverage in the New York Times, for example, reported that eating meat from diseased cattle has allegedly caused more than 100 human deaths in Europe since 1994 and “raised questions about the health benefits of eating beef for many consumers around the world.”
More than 100? A number of “More than 100” in a hysterifluff piece means like 103. Mad Cow disease has killed that many people in ten years? Is that all? Well, at least we’re asserting our species dominance and slaughtering hundreds of cattle for each dead human to teach those cattle about going mad. One of your brains swell, all of your friends get it.
However, according to an old United Kingdom government study (see table B.5), in 1995 alone choking caused 153 deaths in just the UK, which would lead one to postulate merely eating (or putting things in one’s mouth) kills 1500% more people each year than Mad Cow Disease. Time for some appropriate hysterifluff.
Outlaw oral ingestion! Mandate intravenous feeding! Shoot the herds of people who chew gum with their mouths open! Although, since that would include me, I am less in favor of the latterest (most latterly?) suggestion.
However, in defense of our media and our own perception of statistics, people think they can win the lottery, too, so of course they imagine that Mad Cow Disease could get them if they bought a hamburger or McDonald’s stock. So at least we’re consistent in our ignorance of statistics and risk analysis.