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Fear-Mongering Hype

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Be careful! The swine flu will kill millions of people, ruin the economy, and create chaos around the world! When there was an outbreak, schools closed. In Egypt, the health minister ordered all of the pigs slaughtered. Face masks became a booming business.

World health experts declared that almost two billion people could become sick from swine flu. And yet, there have been less than one hundred deaths worldwide. In fact, there have been fewer deaths than in any annual flu season. Few people listen to the health experts, who continue to state that the threat is very real.

People have become sick and tired of reports crying wolf. Many people are also critical of how the media unnecessarily scares people to sell newspapers, magazines, and air time.

Of course, the media and health experts disagree. Both say that they act quickly and properly whenever there is the discovery of a serious threat like swine flu. They have taken the right steps in the past to spread the message. Perhaps, however, it is all just fear-mongering hype.


Preview some of the lesson material:

Warm Up: Do you agree or disagree? Why?

  1. The swine flu is a serious and dangerous disease.
  2. The swine flu will soon spread around the world.
  3. I'm very concerned about the swine flu.
  4. The news cannot be trusted.
  5. The end of the world will soon arrive!

True or False?: Guess (before the article) or answer (after the article) whether the sentence is true or false. If false, correct the sentence.

  1. Schools closed because of the swine flu.
  2. Up to two million people could be sickened by the virus.
  3. There have been more deaths from swine flu than the regular flu.
  4. Health experts think the media scared people with the swine flu.
  5. The health experts reacted quickly and correctly to the problem.

post-Comprehension: Talk about the following questions in pairs/groups. Remember to support your answers!

  1. What do you think about the swine flu? Please explain.
  2. Is there any real possibility that millions of people could die from the swine flu?
  3. What dangers are there to our future? Why do you think these are so dangerous?
  4. If the swine flu spread around the world, how would people's lives change?
  5. If the swine flu spread around the world, how would your life change?

Google Search: Type "swine flu" into Google. Look at the websites, and/or read additional articles on this topic. Discuss or write an essay about your findings.


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