The Movie “Jaws” Foreshadowed America’s Disinformation Crisis

If you want to talk about disinformation in America, “Jaws” is one of the best examples of how a simple story based on a false fear can do exceptional long lasting harm.

It is very difficult to get sharks back to what they are, correctly seen as loving and affectionate.

An example of shark reality is from 1959 to 2010 the TOTAL number of fatalities was 26 in America (0.5/year average). Only 1 in a 3.7 million chance.

For an obvious comparison in risk homeostasis, lightning data shows a 37.9/year average. That average means 1 in 180,746 Americans will be killed by lightning. And that actually is less likely even than being killed by a dog, which is 1 in 118,776!

Ok, to be fair American citizens killed by anything means we take the population total and divide by recorded deaths. The resulting number really shouldn’t be substituted for a probability because factors creep in.

Do you swim every day with sharks? Things like that make better factoring for probability.

Speaking of swimming with sharks then, here is another example of shark reality, as written by Sune Nightingale:

On a dive one day Cristina Zenato noticed a hook inside a shark’s mouth. In the end she just stuck her hand in and pulled it out. From that moment on the shark changed her behaviour and would show up on the dive and allow Cristina to stroke her, and would give Cristina a little nudge on the hip as if to say “hey I’m here”

Then other sharks started showing up wanting hooks removed…..Cristina now has a box of over 300 removed hooks.

“This is a wild animal and she’s giving me full trust…….It is something to be absolutely in awe of no matter how many times it happens …..what I developed is an appreciation for their vulnerability.”

Really changes your perception of sharks doesn’t it to see one being so cuddly and kind?

Again the odds of an American being killed by shark are about 1 in 3.7 million for everyone in the general population. It’s super remote on a generic predictive scale prone to error.

Yet here we see the odds of being killed by a shark actually even MORE remote, reaching towards zero for someone swimming with them constantly. They seem to love her and trust her.

The author of Jaws expressed his deep regrets for writing such a dangerous fiction, but obviously it did little to change the disinformation effect of his book and the movie.

“Spielberg certainly made the most superb movie; Peter was very pleased,” Wendy Benchley told Associated Press. “But Peter kept telling people the book was fiction, it was a novel, and that he took no more responsibility for the fear of sharks than Mario Puzo took responsibility for the Mafia,” she said, referring to Puzo’s screenplay and novel “The Godfather.”

“Jaws” was “entirely fiction,” Peter Benchley repeated in a London Daily Express article that appeared last week.

“Knowing what I know now, I could never write that book today,” said Benchley, who also co-wrote the screenplay for “Jaws.” “Sharks don’t target human beings, and they certainly don’t hold grudges.”

Americans target sharks and hold grudges against them. Not the other way around.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.