Betty Ago: Threats – How do we know what’s credible?

Don’t walk under a ladder — it will bring bad luck. Oh dear! A black cat just crossed my path. We joke about these superstitions now, but at one time, many took them seriously.

When I was a kid in elementary school, I went into total panic that God was going to punish me because I had inadvertently accepted a stick of gum on a day when such treats were not allowed. I’ve since decided that God has much more important things on His/Her agenda.

Don’t eat eggs. Farmers can tell you that many took this rule to heart. Now we find out that eggs (in moderation like anything else) are good food — unless you are allergic to them.

Are you a female over the age of 50? You must have hormone replacement therapy. It turned out that for many the side effects were worse than the illnesses prevented. I confess to having taken pleasure in telling my doctor “I told you so!” Now we hear that ‘everyone’ should be on statin drugs. Statins make me extremely ill. I’m probably not the only one. On the other hand, this medication does help many people. That’s my point — we are all different.

Sometimes warnings are scare tactics aimed at getting you to do something that you otherwise would not do. This would include scams that convince you to give control of your computer to a stranger on the phone.

Other times scare tactics are aimed at convincing you NOT to do something you really should do. Childhood vaccinations certainly are in the crosshairs these days. Recent outbreaks of measles and whooping cough in the U.S. are worrisome. In Pakistan, there are warnings by extremists that people providing polio vaccinations are agents of the CIA. Now, instead of being eradicated, polio is in full bloom in that area of the world.

Do you remember studying about Thomas Malthus (1766-1834)? He was an English economist who was sure we were all going to starve because there was no way food production could keep up with population growth. He was sincere in his concern. He just didn’t allow for scientific progress. Now we can produce enough food. Getting it to where it’s needed is another issue.

Remember the Y2K problem? The scaremongering got all the press. My mother called me one day to ask if she should be worried about this. Would her electricity and water stop? Since I was working in the data industry at the time, I reassured her that there was no significant problem and it was just a lot of noise.

Whenever I hear a threat, I ask myself, “What’s the agenda? Who will profit? Why?” Sometimes I can answer myself, sometimes I can’t.

Watch out for those threats!

Betty is a real person who resides in one of our Brookdale entry fee communities. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Brookdale Senior Living.

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