“Frankenstorm,” the worst storm in American history, is currently beating down upon my home state of New Jersey. As I write this, there is rain and wind, but nothing in the least bit remarkable — at least not as far as weather goes in my neck of the woods of the Garden State.
Still, I continue to be told by media personalities and Facebook friends that this storm promises to visit havoc upon the northeastern United States the likes of which it has never before experienced. To hear people talk — including and especially those who talk about these matters for a living — one could be forgiven for thinking that it is nothing less than Armageddon that is coming our way.
I offer some thoughts.
(1) Virtually everything that we have been hearing about Hurricane Sandy for the better part of a week has been hyperbole — pure and simple. To be sure, the meteorologists were correct in identifying this storm for the historically unusual phenomenon that it promises to be. But that everything else that they have been saying ever since has been a textbook case of sensationalism becomes obvious once we consider the bare fact that nothing else beyond the weather forecast needed to be said.
Round-the-clock predictions regarding power outages lasting seven to ten days and other similarly grisly prognostications do nothing but promote hysteria.
Some will object that incessant coverage of Sandy is necessary in order to save human life. To this, we need only note that animals don’t need to be told to protect themselves against threats. Anyone with an IQ above two knows, or should know, that if there is just a decent chance that a hurricane is heading in his direction, then he needs to do his best to guard against it. By bombarding them with inexhaustible coverage of a life-threatening event, no network does its viewers any favors if those viewers are in harm’s way.
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Jack Kerwick, Ph.D. (photo)