Frequently, folks on the Right accuse the mainstream media of throwing out distraction stories—tales calculated to drive you away from lefty scandals, Democrat Party screw-ups, and general Keystone-Koppery from the liberals. Alas, in the previous three years, the average member of the public has gotten very good at spotting these.
Every so often, though, the media distracts themselves with bizarre and ultimately pointless exercises in stupid journalism. No, not intentionally to conceal or obfuscate facts… but just because they get obsessed with some weird collection of stories that a few editors independently decide must be a trend.
Exhibit A this week is necrotizing fasciitis, which is in a dozen stories this week. You probably know this by its media given name Flesh Eating Bacteria!, of which only the last work is accurate: the bacteria simply kills skin and muscle tissue and does not eat anything.
To be sure, it is terrible and horrible and often preventable. But there are two aspects the media never bother to get around telling you:
First, it is extremely rare. Once again, you need to focus on the flu, which is still a major killer. But the flu is boring, so media want to spice things up with some science-fiction sounding plague. And, we should mention, cases of necrotizing fasciitis are not exactly increasing.
Second, for every case the media decides to report on, many more go unreported by them. Indeed, there is hardly any rhyme or reason to which story gets picked up and which ignored. They are all tragic or unlucky, but the media bag-toss of coverage is another indicator that this is a trumped up story. The media, you see, still think it’s 1899 and that panics and hysterias make good stories.
Suffice it to say, while most doctors encounter at least one case of necrotizing fasciitis in their careers, this is a rare condition that requires you to already have a form of sepsis, and if follow generally good infection-fighting procedures (clean up cuts and bandage them), you can prevent it. As such, if you suspect you have an infection, a quick visit to the doctor can result in standard anti-infection treatments that kill the bacteria before they start.
Seriously, it’s like taking one bizarre form of freak accident—say, folks getting their feet caught in some hydraulic stamper used in light manufacturing—and reporting on a few cases every month to create the sense there is this sinister trend out there.
Of course, the sooner you lose interest in these stories, the faster they go away. Hint. Hint.