by AL Whitney © copyround 2014
Permission is granted for redistribution if linked to original and the AntiCorruption Society is acknowledged
We watched the pandemic agenda rolled out before from SARS to avian flu to swine flu. As we watch the media promote EBOLA, it is easy to see the same playbook still in use.
Example of playbook style propaganda can be identified in NYT piece: Selling a pandemic threat . . . again!
“Fear appeals have had bad press, but the research evidence that they work is overwhelming”.
“We can’t scare people enough . . . “.
The following is an excerpt from Dr Tenpenny’s amazing book, Fowl: Chapter 6 – The New Playbook Arrives. Researcher, author, Dr Sherri Tenpenny exposes how a pandemic is organized, using SARS as the example.
SARS: The warm-up dance
The first reported case of the “mysterious flu” was reported in South China in November 2002. Naming it SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), the WHO issued its first global alerts in early March 2003. Teams of experts were sent to investigate the outbreak. The hysteria grew quickly and within weeks the Hong Kong Department of Health issued an unprecedented quarantine order-keeping residents inside their homes. Shortly thereafter, Mainland China followed suit, closing public schools, cinemas, and libraries in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.
Scientists went into high gear to determine the cause of SARS, and on April 16, 2003, the WHO announced that the infectant was discovered. It was a member of the coronavirus family, “never previously seen in humans.” As more cases began to be reported in Toronto, Canadian health officials warned residents to quarantine themselves, wear masks, and in some cases, just stay home.
Over the six months of the “epidemic”, 8,049 people had tested positive for the virus. The vast majority of cases occurred in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan (7,248) with 774 deaths, or close to 10 percent of known cases. But since the total number of cases represented only those ill enough to seek medical help, the actual death rate is unknown and may have been far less.
As for economic impact, even in Canada – where fewer people were affected (251) and even fewer (43) died – the Canadian Tourism Board estimated that the SARS scare cost the nation’s economy $419 million. The Ontario health minister reported that the cost to the province’s healthcare system, including money spent to develop special clinics and stock them with supplies to protect healthcare workers, was nearly $730 million.
SARS also had a significant, adverse effect on global travel, particularly the airline industry. Flight to Asia and the Pacific Rim decreased by 45 percent, and the number of flights between Hong Kong and the United States fell 69 percent. Singapore Airlines, the world’s second-largest airline by market value after U.S. budget carrier Southwest Airlines, lost $6 million each day during April and May when SARS choked off intra- and inter-Asian travel.
Other less obvious industries throughout the region that suffered during the outbreak were retail sales, hotels, and restaurants. Additional losses resulted from workplace absenteeism. The WHO estimates that the economic consequences of SARS totaled more than $40 billion worldwide. Undeniable, there is a genuine downside to issuing warning that turn out to be unnecessary hype.
Unfortunately, avian influenza has inflicted similar economic consequences. Since the beginning of 2004, more than 200 million domestic birds have been killed in more than 10 countries, even if they were not known to be infected by the virus. The cost to various local economies is estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars. And based on information being pumped out through every possible medium on a daily basis, the bird flu pandemic is still predicted to cause the “next great depression” and “then end of life as we know it”.
Keeping the heat on the hype
But if the apocalypse is coming, only a few seem overly concerned. People seem to be mostly ignoring the gloomy scenarios being portrayed by the CDC and the WHO. Officials need to somehow capture the attention of the public, motivate participation in preparedness planning, and at the same time maintain credibility.
Enter risk communication.
The field of risk communication is relatively new. Dating from the early 1980s, it evolved from several different fields of study: health education, public relations, psychology, risk perception and risk assessment. Risk communication figured prominently in the CDC’s commissions of a new recipe, crafted by Princeton-based risk communication experts Peter M. Sandman, PhD and his wife, Jody Lanard, MD. Published in Perspectives in Health, their plan is based on the following three principles of risk communication:
- Precaution advocacy (“Watch out!”: How to alert people to serious hazards when they are unduly apathetic.
- Outrage management (“Calm down!”): How to reassure people about minor hazards when they are unduly upset.
- Crisis communication (“We’ll get through it together!”): How to guide people through serious hazards when they are appropriately upset (or even in denial).
By blending the work of Nowak,with the plan set forth by the risk communicators, the improved “Ten step Playbook” is available to get the nation ready for the coming pandemic.
Step 1: Start where your audience is
Officials are advised to start with empathy. Instead of scolding people for their lack of concern, make “common cause with the public” and then talk about how horrible the pandemic is likely to be. Don’t tell them the answer: lead them to the conclusion.
Step 2: Don’t be afraid to frighten people
Sandman and Lanard advise the “fear appeals have had bad press, but the research evidence that they work is overwhelming”. That said, they advise, “We can’t scare people enough about H5N1”.
Step 3: Acknowledge uncertainty
Sandman gives an example of a senior veterinary official from Thailand’s public health department who stated, “We know it is H5, but we’re hoping it won’t be H5N1”, as an example of two addition risk communication principles: acknowledge uncertainty and don’t overly reassure. The CDC has been saying since the 1980s that we are “way overdue” for another pandemic. The mass media has apparently been given a green light to magnify this latest health concern by creating ominous warnings with headlines way out of proportion to the risks.
Step 4: Share dilemmas
In crisis communication, the intent of dilemma sharing is to humanize the organization making the decision and give people the impression they are participating in the planning process. Successful use of this strategy will “reduce the outrage if you turn out to be wrong”.
Step 5: Give people things to do Continue reading