According to the NY Times’ John Tierney, post-Sept. 11th fear of terrorism might be detrimental to one’s health:
But worrying about terrorism could be taking a toll on the hearts of millions of Americans. The evidence, published last week in the Archives of General Psychiatry, comes from researchers who began tracking the health of a representative sample of more than 2,700 Americans before September 2001. After the attacks of Sept. 11, the scientists monitored people’s fears of terrorism over the next several years and found that the most fearful people were three to five times more likely than the rest to receive diagnoses of new cardiovascular ailments.
Almost all the people in the study lived outside New York or Washington and didn’t know any victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. But more than a 10th of them reported acute stress symptoms (like insomnia or nightmares) right after the attacks, and over the next three years more than 40 percent said they kept worrying about a terrorist attack affecting themselves or a family member.
But this is the part that got me (italics mine):
Their worries were understandable, given the continual warnings from Washington. Officials repeatedly raised the color-coded level of the National Threat Advisory and sometimes explicitly warned of imminent attacks from terrorist cells supposedly operating in America. The alert level has never dropped below yellow (the third of the five levels). About a third to a half of Americans have continued to tell pollsters that they’re personally worried about being victims of a terrorist attack, and that an attack is somewhat or very likely within several months.
This tells me that “a third to a half of Americans” are fucking morons. Maybe because I’ve lived in a country where terrorism was a daily reality I’m inured to this. Or maybe it’s because I come from a long line of stubborn Jews. Still, this is insane. I realize the Bush Administration along with the security-industrial complex have a vested interest in stoking people’s fears. And watching hours of the terrorism-based torture porn show 24 doesn’t help either.
But any remotely rational assessment of the terrorism risk would make you more afraid of driving your car than of a terrorist attack. Granted, the underlying psychology is interesting, but after all of the psychoanalysis, you still have to strap on the ol’ thinkin’ cap, and not be a fucking moron.