From the startlingly talented David McCandless at the informationisbeautiful website comes this eye-catching visualisation of media scare stories 2000-2009.
(Click here for enlarged version)
The “No. of Stories” shown in the “Intensity” Y axis come from Google News, which I suppose is as good a source for counting as any. (Well, at least it’s a single, consistent source and he hasn’t tried to pull off any Michael Mann hockeystick-style “tricks” by counting half from Google and deriving the rest from Yamal tree rings, or whatever.)
The four highest peaks are, from left, the Y2K bug, the Sars quarantine in China, bird flu and (Dr Donald-duck-son’s greatest hit) swine flu. I would suspect that if the graph had started a little earlier – 1997, say – the Y2K scare would show a higher scare rating.
The thing to note is that all these media scares had no foundation in truth whatsoever. A fact emphasised by the way they all drop away at times of real scares: September 2001 and July 2005.
H/T Matt Ridley