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Eduardo Martínez Abascal, Professor, IESE, University of Navarra


Wed, 20 Jan 2010 09:33:17 +0000 Published in Expansion

I have the feeling that lately we swallow or are bombarded with a lot of nonsense: global warming, swine flu, bird flu or Asian flu, computer chaos with the change of millennium, etc., etc... I am sure the reader can provide many more examples.

The milonga has almost always the same characteristics. It relates to the future and predicts very bad, even catastrophic evils (depending on the size of the milonga). It is never based on incontrovertible data . Usually, and to give it greater verisimilitude, it uses what is known in the scientific world as biased evidence: to give few and partial data , only those that are favorable to you and that tell part of the truth, but not the whole truth.

They are presented as infallible truths that no reasonable person can dispute... anyone who dares to do so is branded as obscurantist, denialist, contrary to scientific progress, an attack on the sustainable progress of humanity, etc, etc, etc.

All this would be acceptable if topic did not cost us money. In the end, the world is free and everyone can have their own opinion. The problem comes when the "beliefs", because I believe they are authentic beliefs, of some people cost the rest of us money. One piece of information: the Spanish government has spent 240 million euros on 30 million vaccines for influenza A. I have asked several managers of pharmaceutical companies and they tell me that they do not believe that more than five million are used... not to mention the exorbitant price per vaccine.

Why are milongas so successful or achieve so much credibility? My opinion staff is that the media are uncritical when it comes to disseminating the news. In addition, they might have a chrematistic interest in the topic. It is well known that sensational news sells more than "normal" news. And, in addition, there are many people, companies and individuals, who make a living out of the millonga, who make money from its exploitation. I imagine that pharmaceutical laboratories have earned a little money with the influenza A vaccines sold.

With this procedure we will end up forming a humanity full of "believers" in what the government or the media say. A humanity lacking a critical spirit. And it is the critical spirit, the continuous questioning about the truth of things or the way to make them better, which leads us to progress. We will end up forming people without any initiative, always pending on what the government or the media "on duty" tells them. What a pity if it were like that!