Webster’s Dictionary defines alarmist as “one disposed to expect or prophesy calamity.”

When I was a student at The University of Tennessee many years ago I took a course in microbiology. The class met on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. My professor was a Dr. Mundt (may he rest in peace). About every third class day Dr. Mundt would go on a rant concerning the bacteria growing in our refrigerators. He warned of impending sickness and even death coming to my classmates and me due to eating bacteria laden leftovers. I spent most of the quarter (it was before school years were divided into semesters) expecting some of my classmates to die any day. Fortunately, we all made it through. Since that day I have heard of no one dying from eating leftovers.

I am sure Dr. Mundt’s warnings were based on some clinical study in which laboratory mice were fed leftover pizza resulting in sickness and death. Of course, the mice might not have died from bacterial invasion. They could have had an allergic reaction to pepperoni.

I’m sure Dr. Mundt, a scientist, meant well, but I took his warnings with “a grain of salt.” I had learned in health class as a seventh-grader that the human body is “fearfully and wonderfully made” and, therefore, equipped with a host of defense mechanisms. Among them are the human skin (a wonder in itself) the mucous membrane, the lymphatic system, and, of course, the body’s immune system. (I’ve always had great respect for white blood cells. They are at work 24/7.)

Since my college days I have eaten a ton of leftovers. So far, I have not died.

Before eating leftovers, I give them a three-way test — the eye test, the smell test and the taste test. If something green is growing on it, I throw it out. If it doesn’t smell right, I discard it. If it passes the first two tests, I taste it. If it tastes OK, I eat it. If some bacteria goes undetected, I trust my body’s defenses to take care of me.

I have noticed as a late a proliferation of alarmists. From weather forecasters, to climate change advocates, to medical “experts” — you name it, it’s BAD, and it could get worse!

In the early spring of this year I heard a “weather girl” — excuse me, please; let me be politically correct here — a young, weather person who was female, say, in describing an approaching storm front, “There could be strong winds with the possibility softball-sized hail.”

I immediately pictured balls of ice the size of grapefruits falling from the sky having picked up considerable momentum after plummeting for a few miles.

Of course, it didn’t happen. The best the TV station could do the next day to cover its tracks was report a roof had been blown off a mobile home near the Alabama line.

Who is to be believed anymore? The projections, based on models, by medical professionals, regarding COVID-19 have been “all over the wall.”

And as the numbers related to the pandemic begin to show marked improvement, someone digs up a “scientist” who states “if you think this is bad just wait until this fall!” So the virus could return? Best I have observed, the flu virus does return every fall.

I, for one, choose to go with probabilities rather than possibilities.

There is a possibility that a super-sized meteor could strike the earth, knocking the earth out of its orbit and we would all be toast — possible, but not probable.

There is a possibility I could die in a plane crash the next time I choose to fly commercially — possible, but I like my odds to make the trip safely.

The odds are much higher that I will die in a car crash. I choose to keep driving.

You get where I’m going.

The odds are less than 2% I could die from contracting the COVID-19 virus. I like those odds. And it was suspected earlier, and has now been determined, 85% of those under the age of 60 who contract the virus will experience only mild, if any, symptoms.

It is almost unfathomable that a great nation such as ours has been set on its ear by all these doomsayers. But, then again, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.

Hartsville resident Jack McCall is a humorist and motivational speaker.

Hartsville resident Jack McCall is a humorist and motivational speaker.

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