Monday, June 04, 2007


In Stephen D Leavitt's and Stephen J Dubner's book Freakonomics : A Rogue Economist explores the Hidden side of Everything, they talk about parents and the concept or risk. For example, Leavitt says that most parents are more likely to let their child play in a house with a swimming pool then with a gun. It seems as if it's safer for the child. On the contrary though, in the US for example, one child drowns for every 11000 pools, whereas one child is killed by a gun for every million plus guns (and this is in a country where there are far more guns then pools).

Leavitt points out that people are far more likely to worry about mad cow disease which is very rare, then food-born pathogens, which is very common.

The reason he surmises is that the thought of a child being killed by a gun is horrific and terrifies any parent (or sane adult for that matter), whereas swimming pools are seen as something familiar and thus not 'scary'. This may explain why people are more concerned about cats and the possibility that they MAY spread disease than any of the things that are harming people every single day.

Your chances of getting killed in a car crash, or from a heart attack are much higher than anything a cat can give you. Yet people are frightened of the cat - and one reason Leavitt also quotes Peter Sandman as postulating is the feeling of not being able to control something. People feel as if they can control their own health, or their actions of crossing the street when a car is speeding past, but for some people, a cat is unpredictable, and not something they can control - hence they fear the cat much more.

It's important when you are out there caring for the cats to try and dispel myths as best as you can. People may not always believe you - but if they hear you explain why you do TNRM and see how you deal with the cats, that will go someways hopefully to dispelling some of the myths that they deal with.



Blogger Surferket said...

Well I do agree that cats are more dangerous than drunken drivers and F1 bus drivers.
Everywhere I go, I'm on the lookout for cats waiting to ambush me. They evil, sneaky as well as fond of eating human flesh. I guess most of us can remember being jumped by evil cats and having to fight for our lives and getting away all ripped and bloody. It's a jungle outta, aiy!!

4/6/07 11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, i do agree that there are people with all kinds of fear. Next time i walk out, i will look at people with fear, they may jump at me. It is crazy world out there.
Perhaps it is not just myths that are giving cats bad press, it is people..full stop.

4/6/07 12:19 PM  
Anonymous I'm OK said...

Surferket are you alright or plain mischievious? The jungle in your mind is far more ridiculous than the world outside. Please seek early treatment.

No cats ever jump on me, rip me to pieces, they are positive, peace loving animals, may be too good to be around abusive humans.

4/6/07 12:44 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

I'm OK - I think Surferket was being facetious :)

4/6/07 12:53 PM  
Anonymous belle said...

this is a true story ...

i have a colleague whose children have asthma ... she is of the belief that animals' fur causes asthma ...

as im not close to this particular colleague, i don't bother to correct her misperception ...

she always asks me why my workclothes have cat's fur . she knows i keep cats, but she will pester me to take a stickytape to remove the fur ... she even offered to do it for me ...

once she asked me 'u take public transport to work, arent u concerned that the other passengers will get asthma from your clothes ?'

i know her fears are unjustified, so i juz smiled and walked off, saying i had work to do ...

i mean - u can catch all sorts of bugs from crowded buses, right - flu, HFMD, dandruff - why single cats out ?

4/6/07 1:44 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

belle - I'm sorry to hear that. Why not try and speak to her the next time though and explain? She obviously does have a lot of misconceptions and you sound like you'd be well placed to dispel them.

4/6/07 1:48 PM  
Anonymous belle said...

i'll see what i can do, dawn ... she's so garrulous once she starts talking u can't get a word in ... :-p

she's not the 'thinking' type of person if u know wat i mean ...

4/6/07 3:49 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

belle - I'm sure you'll do your best :)

4/6/07 5:39 PM  
Blogger eslina said...

A good read about the reality of fear and risk.

5/6/07 11:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah cats are so dangerous.... they might scratch my precious car, scratch my kids, their fur might give my kids asthma. So we must kill all cats to prevent this.

Oh yeah and dont forget the birds, they might poop on you and they may carry bird flu. So they should also all be killed to protect Singapore.

Talking about bird flu, what about medical workers?? Remember Sars... what if the medical workers bring disease home with them.... they might infect us all. Hence we should not allow medical workers to stay with the general populace, they are so dangerous, potential plague carriers. I think we must built homes for them in the hospital. They can only leave after they have resigned and gone for quarantine to make sure they are disease free. We cant have them infecting us can we?

Then old people, they are so slow, always blocking the entrance of buses, They risk falling down and hurting the person behind them. We should too ban them from leaving their homes. Old people who are at risk to others shold be confined to homes.

With all these measures, we all can be safe and have happy living environment.

(Please read between the lines for those who take things literally)

5/6/07 6:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Theres something dangerously obsessive about the Singaporean fixation with cleanliness and order...

5/6/07 7:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the extension of the KiaSu syndrome that includes Kia-Si and Kia-Cheng-Hu!
I was told that during the SARS crisis, many people have written to Cheng-Hu department asking for ALL the birds to be shot!
How many HUMAN has bird flu killed so far?
How many birds have we killed because of our Kia-Si.
Cats and Birds are dispensable! We Human Beings are superior and the only inheritors of this earth.

6/6/07 11:08 AM  

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