Conscienhealth.org is a website that I love and that my web site, fat-science.org, aspires to emulate. The writers at conscienhealth have recently pointed out a modern phenomenon that explains a lot – the observation that we seem to have become addicted to outrage.
“In the realm of nutrition and obesity, the outrages just keep coming. Big sugar conspired to make public health experts peddle bogus low-fat diet advice for decades. Sugary sodas are making our kids fat and [that] keeps getting in the way of research and policies to stop it. Global food companies and fast food chains are peddling obesity in Africa and South America. Evil Monsanto is polluting the world with dangerous GMOs.” And, “As a result, progress in solving a complex problem like obesity slows to a snail’s pace.” (1)
Outrage seems to be something people want and seek out, like riding a roller coaster. We seem to relish feeling bad sometimes. The explanation in the case of outrage might be fear or guilt according to some.
There are plenty enough real outrages in the world without manufacturing trumped up, big, stupid and irrational fears. But the press and politicians have figured out that outrage sells and works. The Russians used it to play us against each other, and to undermine our last presidential election.
Conscienhealth cited a blog by Hank Green that talked to this outrage mongering thing 2 years ago. (2) He said that the most common irrational fear in America today is the thinking that 50% of Americans who surround us are thoughtless, terrible and foolish. Oh no, I think that!
“As an antidote, Green suggests three things: awareness of one’s own biases, faith in others, and compassion. It’s a good start.” Other things that I have thought up to try and fight outrage in myself and others is to make fun of it. If somebody picks chocolate instead of vanilla you could say, “That’s an outrage.” Or if somebody gushes a ridiculous outrage you could say, “Oh my God, it’s the end of the world.”
We do need to control outrage. A culture of stupid outrage can lead to real outrages like electing a crazy idiot who didn’t even want to be president.
John DiTraglia M.D. is a Pediatrician in Portsmouth. He can be reached by e-mail- firstname.lastname@example.org or phone-354-6605.