Problem Finding/consequential problem descriptions
This is a collection of consequential events that were pursued based on claims they represent important problems urgently requiring solutions. Each event drew considerable attention and mobilized many activities. Many of these were highlighted, publicized, and promoted to influence someone’s behavior. Some of these are alarmist overreactions that are unfortunate false alarms. These overreactions may have been caused by a misunderstanding of the real problem, as a proxy for some other problem, or as a deliberate attempt to distract attention from some other issue. Others are complacent underreactions to real problems that allow latent risks to remain unaddressed. A few represent accurate descriptions of real and important problems.
It is instructive to study these and decide which events represent a real problem, an alarmist overreaction, or a complacent underreaction. Work to discover the real problem associated with each event
In 1976, an outbreak of the swine flu, at Fort Dix, New Jersey caused one death, hospitalized 13, and led to a mass immunization program. After the program began, the vaccine was associated with an increase in reports of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which can cause paralysis, respiratory arrest, and death. The immunization program was ended after approximately 25% of the population of the United States had been administered the vaccine.
McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence. During the McCarthy era, hundreds of Americans were accused of being "communists" or "communist sympathizers"; they became the subject of aggressive investigations and questioning before government or private industry panels, committees, and agencies. Many people suffered loss of employment or destruction of their careers; some were imprisoned. Most of these punishments came about through trial verdicts that were later overturned, laws that were later declared unconstitutional, dismissals for reasons later declared illegal or actionable, or extra-legal procedures, such as informal blacklists, that would come into general disrepute.
On January 28, 1986, the NASA Space Shuttle orbiter undertaking the tenth flight of Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, killing all seven crew members: five NASA astronauts, one payload specialist, and a civilian school teacher. The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 11:39 a.m.
On February 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated during atmospheric entry, killing all seven crew members. The disaster was the second fatal accident in the Space Shuttle program, after Challenger, which broke apart 73 seconds after liftoff and killed the seven-member crew in 1986.
The 2003 invasion of Iraq was the first stage of the Iraq War. The invasion phase began on 19 March 2003 and lasted just over one month, including 21 days of major combat operations, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq.
According to U.S. President George W. Bush and U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, the coalition aimed "to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein's support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people." Others place a much greater emphasis on the impact of the September 11 attacks, on the role this played in changing U.S. strategic calculations, and the rise of the freedom agenda. According to Blair, the trigger was Iraq's failure to take a "final opportunity" to disarm itself of alleged nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons that U.S. and British officials called an immediate and intolerable threat to world peace.
The Vietnam War was a conflict in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. North Vietnam was supported by the Soviet Union, China, and other communist allies; South Vietnam was supported by the United States, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Thailand and other anti-communist allies. The war considered a Cold War-era proxy war by some, lasted 19 years, with direct U.S. involvement ending in 1973, and included the Laotian Civil War and the Cambodian Civil War, which ended with all three countries becoming communist in 1975.
In the U.S. in September 1961, the federal government started the Community Fallout Shelter Program. A letter from President Kennedy advising the use of fallout shelters appeared in the September 1961 issue of Life magazine. Over the period 1961-1963, there was a growth in home fallout shelter sales, but eventually there was a public backlash against the fallout shelter as a consumer product.
The Peoples Temple Agricultural Project, better known by its informal name "Jonestown", was a remote settlement established by the Peoples Temple, a cult under the leadership of Jim Jones, in northwestern Guyana. It became internationally known when, on November 18, 1978, a total of 918 people died in the settlement, at the nearby airstrip in Port Kaituma, and at a Temple-run building in Georgetown, Guyana's capital city.
A witch-hunt or a witch purge is a search for people who have been labelled "witches" or a search for evidence of witchcraft, and it often involves a moral panic or mass hysteria. The classical period of witch-hunts in Early Modern Europe and Colonial North America took place in the Early Modern period or about 1450 to 1750, spanning the upheavals of the Reformation and the Thirty Years' War, resulting in an estimated 35,000 to 100,000 executions, with the most recent estimate at 40,000. The last executions of people convicted as witches in Europe took place in the 18th century. In other regions, like Africa and Asia, contemporary witch-hunts have been reported from Sub-Saharan Africa and Papua New Guinea.
Satanic ritual abuse (SRA) was the subject of a moral panic (often referred to as the satanic panic) that originated in the United States in the 1980s, spreading throughout many parts of the world by the late 1990s. Allegations of SRA involved reports of physical and sexual abuse of people in the context of occult or Satanic rituals. In its most extreme form, allegations involve a conspiracy of a worldwide SRA organization that includes the wealthy and powerful of the world elite in which children are abducted or bred for sacrifices, pornography and prostitution. The Wikipedia list of mass hysteria cases includes many more incidents.
Ruby Ridge was the site of an 11-day siege near Naples, Idaho, U.S., beginning on August 21, 1992, when Randy Weaver, members of his immediate family, and family friend Kevin Harris resisted deputies of the United States Marshals Service and the Hostage Rescue Team of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. During a Marshals Service reconnoiter of the Weaver property pursuant to a bench warrant for Weaver after his failure to appear on firearms charges, an initial encounter between six US marshals and the Weavers resulted in a shootout and the deaths of Deputy US Marshal William Francis Degan, age 42, the Weavers' son Samuel (Sammy), age 14, and the Weavers' family dog (Striker). In the subsequent siege of the Weaver residence, led by the FBI, Weaver's 43-year-old wife Vicki was killed by FBI sniper fire.
Lynching is the practice of murder by a group of people by extrajudicial action. Lynchings in the United States rose in number after the American Civil War in the late 19th century, following the emancipation of slaves; they declined in the 1930s. Most lynchings were of African American men in the Southern United States, but women and non-blacks were also lynched, not always in the South. The purpose was to enforce white supremacy and intimidate blacks through racial terrorism. According to the Tuskegee Institute, 4,743 people were lynched between 1882 and 1968 in the United States, including 3,446 African Americans and 1,297 whites. More than 73 percent of lynchings in the post-Civil War period occurred in the Southern states. According to the Equal Justice Initiative, 4,084 African Americans were lynched between 1877 and 1950 in the South.
Vaccine hesitancy is a reluctance or refusal to be vaccinated or to have one's children vaccinated. It is identified by the World Health Organization as one of the top ten global health threats of 2019. The term encompasses outright refusal to vaccinate, delaying vaccines, accepting vaccines but remaining uncertain about their use, or using certain vaccines but not others. Arguments against vaccination are contradicted by overwhelming scientific consensus about the safety and efficacy of vaccines.
The use of dental amalgams is controversial, and debate continues over whether dental amalgam (the mercury alloy in dental fillings) should be used. Supporters claim that it is safe, effective and long-lasting while critics argue that claims have been made since the 1840s that amalgam is unsafe because it may cause mercury poisoning and other toxicity.
The water fluoridation controversy arises from political, moral, ethical, economic, and health considerations regarding the fluoridation of public water supplies.
GMO conspiracy theories are conspiracy theories related to the production and sale of genetically modified crops and genetically modified food (also referred to as genetically modified organisms or "GMOs"). These conspiracy theories include claims that agribusinesses, especially Monsanto, have suppressed data showing that GMOs cause harm, deliberately cause food shortages to promote the use of GM food, or have co-opted government agencies such as the United States Food and Drug Administration or scientific societies such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Critics charge that GMO conspiracy theories are largely promulgated by those opposing the production and sale of GMOs, and instances of unsubstantiated conspiracy theories have lately occurred in the context of public health issues that are mostly unrelated to GMOs, including the 2015–16 Zika virus outbreak and concerns over food safety at Chipotle Mexican Grill.
The Cuban Missile Crisis was a 13-day (October 16–28, 1962) confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union initiated by the American discovery of Soviet ballistic missile deployment in Cuba. The confrontation is often considered the closest the Cold War came to escalating into a full-scale nuclear war. After several days of tense negotiations, an agreement was reached between US President John F. Kennedy and Khrushchev.
The internment of Japanese Americans in the United States during World War II was the forced relocation and incarceration in concentration camps in the western interior of the country of about 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, most of whom lived on the Pacific Coast. Sixty-two percent of the internees were United States citizens. These actions were ordered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt shortly after Imperial Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor.
Nuclear proliferation is the spread of nuclear weapons, fissionable material, and weapons-applicable nuclear technology and information to nations not recognized as "Nuclear Weapon States" by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Proliferation has been opposed by many nations with and without nuclear weapons, as governments fear that more countries with nuclear weapons will increase the possibility of nuclear warfare (up to and including the so-called "countervalue" targeting of civilians with nuclear weapons), de-stabilize international or regional relations, or infringe upon the national sovereignty of states.
People continue to smoke tobacco despite knowing that tobacco use has predominantly negative effects on human health and concern about health effects of tobacco has a long history. Research has focused primarily on cigarette tobacco smoking.
Some people are strongly opposed to same-sex marriage. What problem are they addressing?
The Guantanamo Bay detention camp is a United States military prison located within Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, which is on the coast of Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. Indefinite detention without trial and torture have led the operations of this camp to be considered a major breach of human rights by Amnesty International and a violation of Due Process Clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth amendments of the United States Constitution.
The Year 2000 problem, also known as the Y2K problem, refers to events related to the formatting and storage of calendar data for dates beginning in the year 2000. Problems were anticipated, and arose, because many programs represented four-digit years with only the final two digits – making the year 2000 indistinguishable from 1900. The assumption of a twentieth-century date in such programs could cause various errors, such as the incorrect display of dates and the inaccurate ordering of automated dated records or real-time events.
Survivalism is a movement of individuals or groups (called survivalists) who actively prepare for emergencies, including possible disruptions in social or political order, on scales from local to international.
Damnation is the concept of divine punishment and torment in an afterlife for actions that were committed on Earth.
Global warming is the long-term rise in the average temperature of the Earth's climate system. It is a major aspect of climate change and has been demonstrated by direct temperature measurements and by measurements of various effects of the warming.
A hoax is a falsehood deliberately fabricated to masquerade as the truth. It is distinguishable from errors in observation or judgment, rumors, urban legends, pseudosciences, and April Fools' Day events that are passed along in good faith by believers or as jokes. What problems are those who create hoaxes trying to solve?
A global catastrophic risk is a hypothetical future event which could damage human well-being on a global scale, even endangering or destroying modern civilization. An event that could cause human extinction or permanently and drastically curtail humanity's potential is known as an existential risk.
Cyberterrorism is the use of the Internet to conduct violent acts that result in, or threaten, loss of life or significant bodily harm, in order to achieve political or ideological gains through threat or intimidation.
The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) was a proposed missile defense system intended to protect the United States from attack by ballistic strategic nuclear weapons (intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles).
The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is an American federal program that requires transportation fuel sold in the United States to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels. It originated with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and was expanded and extended by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Research published by the U.S. GAO in November, 2016 found the program unlikely to meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions due to limited current and expected future production of advanced biofuels.
"Duck and cover" is a method of personal protection against the effects of a nuclear explosion. Ducking and covering is useful at conferring a degree of protection to personnel situated outside the radius of the nuclear fireball but still within sufficient range of the nuclear explosion that standing upright and uncovered is likely to cause serious injury or death.
The Flint water crisis is a public health crisis that started in 2014, after the drinking water source for the city of Flint, Michigan was changed. In April 2014, Flint changed its water source from treated Detroit Water and Sewerage Department water to the Flint River. Officials failed to apply corrosion inhibitors to the water. As a result, lead from aging pipes leached into the water supply, leading to extremely elevated levels of the heavy metal neurotoxin and exposing over 100,000 residents to elevated lead levels. A pair of scientific studies proved that lead contamination was present in the water supply.
“Pizzagate” is a debunked conspiracy theory that went viral during the 2016 United States presidential election cycle. It has been extensively discredited by a wide range of organizations, including the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia. In March 2016, the personal email account of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, was hacked in a spear-phishing attack. WikiLeaks published his emails in November 2016. Proponents of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory falsely claimed the emails contained coded messages that connected several U.S. restaurants and high-ranking officials of the Democratic Party with an alleged human trafficking and child sex ring.
After the September 11 attacks, questions were raised regarding the effectiveness of airport security at the time, as all 19 hijackers involved in 9/11 managed to pass existing checkpoints and board the airplanes without incident. In the months and years following September 11, 2001, security at many airports worldwide was escalated to deter similar terrorist plots.
A shark attack is an attack on a human by a shark. Every year, around 80 unprovoked attacks are reported worldwide. Despite their relative rarity, many people fear shark attacks after occasional serial attacks, such as the Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916, and horror fiction and films such as the Jaws series.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was a scheduled passenger flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that was shot down on 17 July 2014 while flying over eastern Ukraine. All 283 passengers and 15 crew were killed.