Remembering Mark Twain and Media Driven Fear Of Death.

Mark Twain died on April 21, 1910.

He could call out crap like few other writers in history.

What would he have said about the Coronavirus lockdowns?

We will never know.

Here is his risk analysis response in 1871 to an attempt by a railroad ticket seller to sell him insurance for a train trip:

“I hunted up statistics, and was amazed to find that after all the glaring newspaper headings concerning railroad disasters, less than three hundred people had really lost their lives by those disasters in the preceding twelve months. The Erie road was set down as the most murderous in the list. It had killed forty-six—or twenty-six, I do not exactly remember which, but I know the number was double that of any other road. But the fact straightway suggested itself that the Erie was an immensely long road, and did more business than any other line in the country; so the double number of killed ceased to be matter for surprise.

By further figuring, it appeared that between New York and Rochester the Erie ran eight passenger trains each way every day—sixteen altogether; and carried a daily average of 6,000 persons. That is about a million in six months—the population of New York city. Well, the Erie kills from thirteen to twenty-three persons out of its million in six months; and in the same time 13,000 of New York’s million die in their beds! My flesh crept, my hair stood on end. “This is appalling!” I said. “The danger isn’t in travelling by rail, but in trusting to those deadly beds. I will never sleep in a bed again.” (1871)

Two years later here is what Mark Twain had to say about the newspapers of his era: “It seems to me that just in the ratio that our newspapers increase, our morals decay. The more newspapers the worse morals. Where we have one newspaper that does good, I think we have fifty that do harm. We ought to look upon the establishment of a newspaper of the average pattern in a virtuous village as a calamity.” (1873)

And: “It has become a sarcastic proverb that a thing must be true if you saw it in a newspaper. That is the opinion intelligent people have of that lying vehicle in a nutshell. But the trouble is that the stupid people — who constitute the grand overwhelming majority of this and all other nations — do believe and are moulded and convinced by what they get out of a newspaper, and there is where the harm lies.”

Perhaps what Mark Twain was doing in these quotes was calling out Fake News.

God Bless America, Freedom from Fear and Truth,

For me these are bastions for The Word in the modern world.

Geoff Fox, 21st April, 2020,for  Terra Nullius