Apathy and the wolf

Over the past several weeks one of the favorite topics in the press has been the latest fad in pandemics: swine flu. This has been brought about by a series of ominous pronouncements by the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO indeed? More recently WHO has begun to rethink its hazard announcement policies for fear of the dreaded Wolf syndrome.

Surely you remember the old fable about the boy WHO cried Wolf! After the first Wolf! shout the people in the boy’s village rushed about in preparation for defense against the vicious Wolf. When the Wolf! failed to appear, the boy’s wolf-forecasting credibility dropped a few notches. After the second outcome-free Wolf! alert reliance on the boy’s ability dropped another few notches. And so on to the point where no one paid any attention one day to another Wolf! cry.

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