A World of Misplaced Worry
We fear massive terrorism plots, killer strains of bacteria in our food and lurking predators, but we seldom think of heart disease when we order fries. Thrill-seeking readers appreciated our analysis of the threats we face every day, which--surprise!--don't include a bungee jump or deadly snakes
Thanks for taking the time to point out what too often gets lost in today's climate of paranoia: people worry about the wrong things [Dec. 4]. I race motorcycles, so I often hear ill-informed proclamations about the danger I face. I contend that fast food and tobacco are much more likely to kill you than riding is. My father always said, "You can do safe things dangerously and dangerous things safely," and when you consider that nearly half of fatalities from motorcycle accidents involve alcohol, my odds improve. Add a helmet and other protective gear, and my odds are better still. But nothing can protect you from an unhealthful lifestyle. GREGOR HALENDA New York City
Now that newsworthy events can be broadcast instantly around the planet, it's easy to believe that we live in a particularly dangerous era. But I don't buy it. I stopped watching television, so I am not bothered by shampoo bombs on airplanes or strange bacteria in my spinach. The information age has lengthened the list of things to worry about. It seems the biggest worriers accept the evening news as absolute truth. MICHELLE SISSON Fair Oaks, Calif.
Jeffrey Kluger's piece was very interesting, telling and informative. But we should be careful to consider ratios of risk rather than absolute numbers. It may be true that airline travel is safer than car travel, but a fair comparison would be the number of deaths in relation to the number of people traveling in that mode. Obviously, the number of people riding in cars is overwhelmingly higher than the number who fly, so a straight number-of-deaths comparison is slightly misleading. KEVIN CRYDERMAN Rochester, N.Y.
Mad Cow Disease, bad spinach and terrorists don't have me worried. What really scares me is the decreased civility in U.S. culture. My car has become a target for other drivers on the road, just as my body has become a target for other people during the walk to the office. GREGORY A. RETTER Indianapolis, Ind.
Death by terrorism was hardly mentioned in TIME's discussion of causes of death. Clearly we need a well-funded war on heart disease and cancer far more than a war on terrorism. RICHARD WINCHELL Aurora, Ill.
At 88 years old, I have learned in my long marriage and even longer life that worrying is an exercise in futility and does not change a thing. I haven't worried since the Nazis arrested me in 1938 and shipped me off to a concentration camp. I had worried the night before. Afterward I decided that worrying is a waste of time and no help whatsoever. What will be will be. CHRIS A. BLUNT Sarasota, Fla.