Mass hysteria is hysterical

Posted: Jun 20, 2006 12:05 PM
When I was a mere sprout, I recall that some nincompoops were convinced that fluoridating water was a communist plot. So it was at a very tender age that I first caught on that, no matter how normal people might appear to be, there was always a good chance that scratch the surface and you’d find screwballs.

Nothing that I’ve experienced in all the ensuing years has done anything to dispel that belief. For instance, on occasion, when driving home late at night, I used to catch a bit of a radio call-in show hosted by a fellow named Art Bell. So far as I could tell, he devoted several hours every week night to discussing UFOs and extraterrestrials with his listeners. Now, I, personally, wouldn’t want to devote 15 or 20 hours a week to discussing a really fascinating topic, such as baseball or myself. How Mr. Bell could bear to spend all those hours sharing gossip about Roswell, New Mexico, is totally beyond me. I only prayed that I’d never recognize one of those voices as belonging to a friend or neighbor.

These days, in order to remind myself that far too many of you have had your brains somehow replaced with pumpkin seeds, I tune in to my friend Michael Medved’s radio show on Wednesday. During the last of his three hours, he invites his audience to share their favorite conspiracy theories. The stuff and nonsense that many of you actually believe would be funny if it weren’t so scary. I mean, some of you drive cars and work around heavy machinery and cast votes in national elections.

There is absolutely nothing so totally absurd, I’m convinced, that a fair number of our fellow Americans won’t accept it as gospel. Which certainly explains cults, the National Enquirer and Ted Kennedy’s career.

It would be comforting to assume that these people are all illiterate bumpkins who think the earth is flat and the moon is made of gorgonzola. But, judging by the way they sound on the radio, that’s not the case. It isn’t the way they speak, but what they say, that’s the tip-off to the fact that, mentally speaking, they’re ninety-three cents shy of a dollar, three quarters shy of a football game, several sausage links shy of a Denny’s Grand Slam.

But in spite of all that, these dimwits are in excellent company. Consider America’s scientific community. Does a single day pass that the folks in the lab coats don’t warn us that something or other is going to kill us before next Tuesday? They’re the sort who give hysterics a bad name.

It would be a lot easier to take global warming seriously if 30 years ago the same gang hadn’t been warning us that global cooling was going to turn us all into popsicles!

Now, I like a good scare as well as the next guy, but I’m far likelier to get goose bumps at the thought of a giant meteor heading our way or even at the mere rumor of an Adam Sandler movie marathon than at the prospect of polar ice caps melting. How frightened can I get at the thought that over the next few hundred or thousand years, the ocean level will rise five or six inches—especially when global cooling is just as likely to reverse the process?

By the way, wasn’t acid rain supposed to defoliate the entire eastern seaboard long before now? And wasn’t our food supply supposed to become exhausted once the world’s population hit five billion? And weren’t we all supposed to be going to war, not over oil, but over water by this time?

Frankly, I can’t imagine how Tipper Gore manages to put up with that nervous Nellie she’s married to. I always picture Al leaping up on a chair at the sight of a mouse, and screaming, “Bubonic plague!”

All I can say is, it’s a crying shame that Chicken Little is no longer among us. The sad truth is that if Professor Little were alive today, he could get a multi-million dollar grant to study the imminent falling of the sky.