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Thursday, February 17, 2005

Culture of fear

This afternoon, the boss sent an email to everyone that, in brief, stated the following: if you have a heart attack, you should cough hard to get your heart pumping normally. That advice is, of course, fake though it seems real at first glance. In fact, it's an urban legend that has been floating around the Internet for a while.

So I sent a reply to everyone stating that it is fake, pointing them to a page with information about this heart-attack-and-coughing urban legend, and thought nothing about it.

A short while later, I received an email from a colleague stating that I had guts for correcting the boss. I thought that this was strange, since I was correcting something that is factually wrong. Besides, what if someone really had a heart attack and resorted to coughing? And that's what I told my colleague.

But later in the day, more and more colleagues either came up to me or started talking among themselves about my gutsy move. They weren't gossiping that I was correcting a mistake, but that I was refuting the boss. It would seem that they were more willing to believe a lie, albeit an unintentional one, than to say that the boss was mistaken.

Which is just plain rubbish. People make mistakes. It's a human failing. No one is perfect, except deities-as-humans. And bosses are humans too. I suspect that this is an Asian-wide phenomenon because of our reverence for elders and authorities. It would be blind foolishness to take his word as gospel just because he is the boss. People need to be more open-minded.

On the upside, I happened to bump into the boss, and he thanked me for correcting him, although he said he knew of one case where a person did manage to survive a heart attack by coughing. I remarked that it probably wasn't a heart attack, but a slight case of irregular heartbeat. If you compare the force of electric paddles to coughing, you know that there is little to no way that a cough can restart your heart.

So at least the boss was on my side, ha.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hi, interesting post.

like many, i thought that the "coughing cpr" was genuine, though i'm one who usually dun believe in mass circulated mails. maybe because it sounded logical ....

anyway, i think u did the right thing. for all the pragmatism of our fellow countrymen, many of us are still suckers for urban legengs :)

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