There is a children’s story about a boy who thought he saw a wolf at the edge of the village and cried, “Wolf”!  Everyone came running, but could not see a wolf.  The boy liked the fact that he was for a brief time the center of attention and decided a few days later to sound the alarm just for the pleasure of it.  Again, there was no wolf and there was no wolf on the next occasion, either. 

One day there was an actual wolf, and when he cried, “Wolf”, no one came and the wolf carried the boy  off.

Aside from the fact that this story is probably a real disservice to wolves, the story is very pertinent for today.

Weather reporters commonly are seen standing in wind, surf pounding, objects flying by, warning everyone to leave the island, to seek shelter. While in videos like that above pedestrians are calmly walking across the screen in the background making it appear that the weather reporter is engaging in a bit of hyperbole.  In Hurricane Florence hyped as a potential Category V storm, which actually hovered around Cat l-ll prior to landfall, there were similar clips.  We saw houses hanging off of cliffs awaiting the storm surge that would send them into the ocean.  Then we listened- now that it was clear that it was not going to be a record setting wind event - about the storm dumping record setting rain; something that actually happened.

Every time we tuned in there was some man or woman in a baseball cap, rain gear flapping in the wind with whitecaps in the background. 

We are told that the weather people are just doing their job.  They're just trying to keep us safe.

The following video is memorable, not for the wind effect, but for the creepy music and melodramatic narration.

Increasingly, it seems, everything is sold with fear.  George W. Bush and Dick Cheney sold us on the war in Iraq with the threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction stockpiled by Saddam Hussein.  Identity protection is a thriving business as are home protection systems.  People are sold on the idea of gated communities on the premise that the gates will keep riff-raff out.  Surrounding ourselves with like-minded people seems comforting.

The Weather Stations tout every storm as potentially the worst of all time, the storm of the century, a potential killer, likely to cause record setting property damage.

People become complacent.  Eventually, there will be a “storm of the century” and people will stay at home because “It is never as bad as they say it will be”.

All of the 24/7 “News” channels; CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, endeavor to keep a story going, to milk it for every drop of fear and alarm so that the viewer will stay tuned in and keep coming back (and the owners will gain market share and advertising dollars).

In the ideal world of marketing basic needs are not met, because there is increased motivation for finding a means toward meeting them.

We worry about being blown away or drowned.  We worry about our relatives being blown away or drowned.  The bigger the storm the more likely that someone we or someone we know will be involved.

Maslow, in 1943, proposed a hierarchy of needs that were portrayed as levels of a triangle with the most basic needs making up the base.


The most basic needs are for shelter, food, sex and rest.

Immediately above that level of physiological needs is the need for safety.

These needs are considered deficiency needs, and the more they are satisfied the less our motivation to have them.

On the other hand, needs above that level – those related to self-actualization and recognition work in the opposite direction.  The more they are satisfied the greater out motivation to increase them.


So, “safety”, which includes police protection, fire protection, protection under the law, as well as national security, is a motivating factor only so long as needs are not met, or, there is a perception that they are not being met.

Maslow’s work was initially interpreted to indicate that we could not attend to higher level needs until lower level needs were met.  He later clarified by saying that lower needs don’t need to be completely met in order to realize the attainment of higher needs, but it would seem that not having more basic needs met would divert energy that would otherwise be directed toward intimate relations, friendships, job satisfaction and recognition.

The use of fear to sell more police protection, militarized police units, a larger army, enough nuclear weapons to kill all of mankind fifty times over, border walls, residential alarm systems, and air time are detrimental because they deter us as a nation from engaging in  healthier pursuits, and they use up valuable resources in the process.

And there is the “wolf” factor.  Eventually, when there is a real threat we will have become to numb to react, too inured to believe, and we may be laboring under a false sense of security, thinking that our border wall will keep out “illegals” and criminals.

Mexicans and Central-Americans know about boats.

Or by banning Muslims we will prevent terrorism on our soil.

The Unabomber (Theodore Kaczynski), Timothy McVeigh, and Terry Nichols were all home grown terrorists with no ties to Islam.

The problem is that many will grasp at anything to feel more secure, and the more insecure we feel, the greater the motivation.

In a recent essay in The Atlantic written by Hillary Clinton it is pointed out that thirty  years ago 5% of Republicans and 4% of Democrats said that they would be upset if their child married someone from the opposite political party.  Now, 49% of Republicans and 33% of Democrats would find that distressing.  It was Clinton’s point that fears and mistrust are destroying our democracy.

We are constantly being reminded of things to fear.  It is not that there is nothing to fear; it is that the things we fear are rarely a problem and the thangs that become a problem are rarely the things we feared.  My mother had macular degeneration and became functionally blind because of it.  I assumed that I would have that, as well.  I do, but I had my vision loss from something wholly unrelated.

We are tilting at windmills taking them for giants.

In his first inaugural speech, at the depth of the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” .  That line, it turns out, was not original to FDR.  It was first said on record by Francis Bacon 400 years earlier about loss of fortune in his work, Tribute.  Regardless, the sentiment is true, and FDR gets points for listening in school.

What can be done about the pervasive use of fear in sales?  We can’t change the behavior of those using it to sell their product.  We can be aware of it, however, and avoid falling victim to the ruse.






Views: 138

Comment by Ron Powell on September 18, 2018 at 1:36pm

I'm convinced that big box grocery chains pay local TV stations a premium for the hype and hyperbole re the weather...

Frightened people can clean out grocery store shelves in a matter of a few hours...

If they were prepared at all to begin with, the panic purchases result in redundancies and waste...

The thing is it seems to work... People fall for it every time and here's the catch:

When the order to evacuate is given, they have to leave most of the stuff behind to go to ruin in the ensuing flood or the ravages of winds that are strong enough to cause trees to be uprooted and houses to collapse....

Re this last hurricane, Trump's FEMA had that right idea: Take millions from the FEMA emergency preparedness , response and rescue budget and transfer the funds to the Homeland Security, ICE budget that addresses the even greater fear of being invaded and overrun by illegals...

Insted of storm preparations the administration felt that the real priority is detention and deportation of the brown skinned hordes that will surely do more harm to the residents of Idaho, Montana, and the Dakotas than any mere hurricane can do to the residents of the Carolinas....

Besides "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" is an  old African folk tale told by an ugly old black man named Aesop....

What would he know about any of it anyway?

Comment by Rodney Roe on September 18, 2018 at 3:50pm

I'm sorry.  Somehow this post got closed for comments.  It is open again.

Ron, they got wolves in Africa?  Just kidding.  Folk tales and fairy tales get modified to meet the local milieu as they travel.

I watched, Woman Walks Ahead, the other night.  Based on a true story about a widow from New York who went west to paint Sitting Bull.  We all know how that turned out, but it did a good job of portraying the events and treachery that led up to the slaughter at Wounded Knee.

Comment by Rodney Roe on September 18, 2018 at 5:33pm

During the early part of my life we lived inland so that hurricanes were never a factor.  The threat of tornadoes was, and each time there were tornado watches and warnings bread and milk disappeared from grocery shelves.  Really, Americans consider bread and milk to be necessities?  It seems to be a ritual of some sort.  The only hurricane I was in was Hugo in 1989.  We had oak trees down in our yard (both missed the house) and no power for days.  Still, we found a meat market that had emergency power and a 7/11 that had hot coffee, cleaned out everyone's vegetable bins, and fixed dinner on a propane grill for all of the neighbors of steak and salad.  It was a five hour drive to the South Carolina coast from our house and the damage was totally unexpected.  The point is that we made do, met neighbors and helped each other out.  We made friendships from that storm that lasted for years.  In fact, we had coffee with one of those friends just yesterday because, unlikely as it might be, almost 30 years later we are living near each other again.

Terrible things have happened to all of us.  Eventually, it will be the worst thing, but being afraid won't keep it from happening. It will just steal your joy leading up to that time.

Comment by Maui Surfer on September 18, 2018 at 8:18pm

What the hell is wrong with thirty three percent of Democrats? You would be OK with your son or daughter joining the Klan?

Comment by moki ikom on September 18, 2018 at 11:32pm

Rodney, I agree with you how you framed the USraeli crime against Humanity:

"George W. Bush and Dick Cheney sold us on the war in Iraq with the threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction stockpiled by Saddam Hussein."

Cheney and Bush sold it to us, but they were just the salesmen.  The creators were/are headquartered in Occupied Palestine.

Comment by moki ikom on September 19, 2018 at 12:40am

Five hurricanes, three eyes of same, in near seven decades in three different states, the last being about twenty five years ago,,  biggest difference now from back then is better forecasting storm direction and intensity.  I well remember how after first grade, regarding hurricanes, i had serious anxieties about our family moving from n.w. Oregon to central Florida in the mid 1950's.   Hurricane Donna on the night of 10-11Sept1960 was my first hurricane but fortunately the most memorable thing about it was that our parents -mostly mom, dad was about doing storm stuff- taught us how to play pinochle by the light of a Coleman latern.

Comment by Rodney Roe on September 19, 2018 at 6:07am

We grew up on the edge of the prairie where springtime meant tornadoes.  Our little house had a wet walkout basement and there was a room off of the basement through which the well pipe ran, that had no power, but was surrounded on all sides by concrete.  There was just enough room for a double bed and that is where all four of us; mom, dad, my brother and I, spent many nights sleeping between musty sheets on a mildewed mattress.  Weather forecasting in the early 50s was a nascent science, and we spent an entire week of nights in that cellar room.

My mother was raised in western Oklahoma, and peeking out of a root cellar door watched a tornado neatly remove the front porch from the rest of the house.  Still, she wasn't fearful of tornadoes.  She was more like resigned.  If it's your time, it's your time.  She didn't argue for sleeping between clean sheets, though.  I think that is the right balance.  I have to point out, about mom, that she was biding her time, walking through a vale of tears, waiting for her reward in heaven. 

Everyone deals with uncertainty in their own way.  I'm more of the philosophy that "life's a bitch and then you die."

Comment by Rodney Roe on September 19, 2018 at 6:13am

Maui Surfer, I think it is 67% of Democrats where it used to be 96%.  You have to remember though that, while the names have stayed the same, the parties have changed.  The Democratic Party used to include Dixiecrats.  It was the party of Labor and Strom Thurmond. 

Comment by Rodney Roe on September 19, 2018 at 8:58am

All of our present misunderstanding can be framed in explanations for why we can no longer get a good tomato sandwich.

One of the best things about summer fifty years ago was the availability of fresh tomatoes that were big enough to slice and cover a piece of bread.

Everyone complains now about how hard it is to grow tomatoes, how the flavor isn't there anymore, and how "there isn't any size to them".

The difference lies in the explanation.  People like me (rational, scientific and progressive) think it is the natural progression of work by horticulturalists to produce tomatoes that are resistant to multiple diseases, ship well, ripen early, and have attractive color.  That process has favored the commercial grower, and although there was an experiment with a GMO tomato, it was dropped for commercial reasons.

Back to nature/organic/gmo hating,/granola crunching hippies revived heirloom tomato varieties which are more difficult to grow, have poorer yields, come in a variety of colors (including green) and may have better flavor.  Flavor is entirely subjective.  I've tried both hybrids like Better Boys and Early Girls and heirlooms like Cherokee Purple, Black Krim, and Green Zebras.  Heirlooms are extremely frustrating.

Others, like my gun toting, sumkinda Baptist brother-in-law blame it on the contrails.  When he explained it I blurted out, "Contrails?"  Yes, contrails.  The government is flying over, seeding clouds with chemicals that make the soil infertile so we have to get handouts from welfare.

Of course, why didn't I think of that?

Comment by Maui Surfer on September 19, 2018 at 10:07am

I admit to not reading the article and so got the Math wrong. That said, we all know pre Civil Rights Act Dems were KKK scum in a way to large percentage, but, that means nothing know as every single one has switched due to the horrible notions that Truman would desegregate the Military, that Arkansas would allow black schoolchildren, that Blacks could actually vote! That Jews could stay in hotel rooms, and so on. So, it is a false notion to imply that we do not trust these people. In fact, we are reacting exactly the way we should- when you see danger, and horrible lying monsters behind it, you should either fight or run like hell, or, move to San Francisco where they don't allow that shit.


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