How Americans are living dangerously

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How Americans are living dangerously

Via Time Magazine/CNN.com

We agonize over avian flu, which to date has killed precisely no one in the United States, but have to be cajoled into getting vaccinated for the common flu, which contributes to the deaths of 36,000 Americans each year.

We wring our hands over the mad cow pathogen that might be but almost certainly isnt in our hamburger and worry far less about the cholesterol that contributes to the heart disease that kills 700,000 of us annually.

We pride ourselves on being the only species that understands the concept of risk, yet we have a confounding habit of worrying about mere possibilities while ignoring probabilities, building barricades against perceived dangers while leaving ourselves exposed to real ones.

Shoppers still look askance at a bag of spinach for fear of E. coli bacteria while filling their carts with fat-sodden French fries and salt-crusted nachos. We put filters on faucets, install air ionizers in our homes and lather ourselves with antibacterial soap.