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Hey, guys, it's Mike Rowe, and this is the way I heard it, the only podcast for The Curious Mind with a short attention span.


This is episode number 170 and I call it they were all at risk. They were all at risk. Why do I call it that?


Well, because they were risk. It is the I think I think risk would be the official four letter word of 20/20 seems to be everywhere. Right. You open up the newspapers, turn on the TV, can't look anywhere, it seems, without being confronted with proof positive that we do, in fact, inhabit a risky world. I'm sitting here right now in my office gazing out my window. The question is not what do I see? The question is what don't I see?


I do not see the distinctive orange hues of the Golden Gate Bridge, nor do I see the Emerald Hills of the Marin Headlands or the sparkling blue of the San Francisco Bay or the majestic oak trees that normally dot the horizon here. No, I don't see any of that. All I see is smoke.


The entire area is enveloped, as it has been for the last few days and just a thick plume of smoke.


The wildfires out here in California are no joke. They're burning out of control in many areas and well, it's a risky time now. Risk, of course, is relative. We all know that looking out at smoke is very different than looking out of flames. So I should count my blessings. I reckon, like the folks in Cedar Rapids who made it through that really call it a derecho, that wind storm that leveled most of the city, horrifying thing came out of nowhere, an inland hurricane, essentially.


And of course, traditional hurricanes are still with us. Laura just blew through the Gulf, leaving havoc in her wake. Pandemonium.


So, yeah, risk, it's real. And I've been writing about it for a long time. Some of you have asked me to weigh in again on the whole safety. Third mantra, that was the name of a special I did for Discovery years ago when I looked at the unintended consequences of valuing safety above all things. What happens when we do that? What happens to an individual who cares more about safety than anything else? What happens to a town, a city, a country, a nation?


Those are the questions that are on my mind. And the story you're about to hear, I think, reflects a certain preoccupation with the nature of risk. I hope you like it. I just finished writing it. I'm going to read it momentarily, but not until I tell you about my dear friend who I've never met named Ali. Ibrahima Ali Ibrahimy, aside from having a terrific moniker, is the CEO of a company called Walls Need Love. This, incidentally, is a pretty cool company too.


If you were there, they're bringing wallpaper back. It looks like I went to their site and it's a it's a whole new approach to wallpaper. Anyway, Ali Abrahamian was looking to fill a position, and so he did what he always does. He went to zip recruiter dotcom row. And when I say always, I mean, well, that's where he went when he was looking for the three key people in his company, specifically a head of marketing, his sales director and his lead graphic designer.


Well, now he was looking for a job.


He just calls it a multifaceted role. I'm not sure exactly what he needed, but I can tell you what he found. He found Savannah Ray and Ali Abrahamian is thrilled, as he always is. It says so right here in my notes.


He's not alone. Ali Abrahamian goes to Zipp recruiter for the same reason thousands of other employers do. Four out of five employers who post their get a quality candidate within the first day, four out of five, a bet you'll be among them. See for yourself how it recruiter works. See how they make hiring faster and easier. Try it for free. That's right. For free, you might say. No risk, that's it, Recruiter Dotcom cigarroa post your job for free and zip recruiter dotcom r o w e and see why they really are the smartest way to hire.


Be like Savanah.


Be like Ali Abrahamian. This is the way I heard it. Make no mistake about it, they were all. At risk. No one knows for sure where the epidemic originated. Some believe it started in a wet market where animals were butchered and sold to the public. Others maintain it was developed in a medical facility, regardless of its origins. The epidemic officially began, as all epidemics do with patient zero. In this case, Patient Zero was a 43 year old mother of five with a pre-existing condition.


According to medical records. She was out for an evening stroll when she experienced a sudden shortness of breath, followed by an inability to swallow or speak. In moments, her breathing became labored, her heart rate skyrocketed and her blood pressure dropped. Ironically, she collapsed 100 yards from the hospital, just a few steps from where her life might have been saved. The experts were baffled by Patient Zero's sudden demise, baffled but not worried, a single unexplained fatality was no reason to assume an epidemic was on the horizon, especially when the victim was already at risk.


But then a week later, Patient Zero was followed. As Patient Zero, as always, are by patient number two, another individual who died in the exact same way, a sudden shortness of breath, followed by an inability to swallow or speak.


Two patients, each from the same neighborhood, each at risk with the same pre-existing condition, each dead of the same cause.


Technically, it might be inaccurate to call them patients, since both victims died before the doctors had a chance to treat them. But they were certainly patients during their autopsies.


And once those were completed, well, the mystery surrounding their deaths only deepened. This was not the flu. This was something altogether different. The next morning's headlines got people talking two mysterious deaths, not a single clue.


On the positive side, if this was the beginning of an outbreak, the spread was relatively slow. In fact, three weeks after Patient Zero succumbed, there were still just two cases, which meant that containment should have been easy. Unfortunately, the experts couldn't agree on how to handle the situation instead of locking down the epicenter. They dithered and dallied and hoped the problem would simply go away on its own.


But then a third victim was carried off to the morgue, followed by a fourth barely an hour later. Now, the experts were worried something deadly was on the move, something novel that posed a unique threat to at risk individuals with a pre-existing condition, it had no official name. So the press dubbed it the invisible killer and turned their entire attention to covering each new case in exhaustive detail. Every day there was a new headline that positively dripped with dread.


Death stalks the city. Who will be the next to perish? No one safe from Invisible Killer. For the media, bad news was good news and nothing sold newspapers like an invisible killer, slowly weeding out society's most vulnerable.


Over time, though, all the fear mongering took a toll, as fear mongering always does, with no expert consensus, no political leadership and no context or perspective. And the constant reporting, the people didn't know what to believe. Soon, every new fatality was blamed on this invisible killer, including many deaths that were completely unrelated.


It was then that the people's uncertainty turned to fear and their fear. To panic, stay safe, the experts said, stay home. And so the people did they lock themselves down, even healthy people who were not at risk, people with no pre-existing condition, they hold themselves away, convinced that the invisible killer was coming for them, those who dared to venture outside were careful to keep their distance from strangers.


And those who met the gaze of passers by did so with a deep and profound suspicion. So terrifying was the prospect of dying that many of the people remained locked down for months. Even when the cases began to decline, their fear remained.


Even when the fatalities dropped to zero, their panic persisted a moral panic inspired by an invisible killer that posed no danger to ninety nine point nine nine nine nine nine percent of the population.


Hard to imagine such a thing happening today, but once upon a time, epidemics like these were common.


This one started with the mysterious death of an at risk 43 year old mother of five named Marianne Nichols and concluded with the demise of Mary Jane Kelly, another woman who suffered from the same pre-existing condition.


Her death, like all the others, made the front page along with the detailed description of her corpse.


Quote, The victim's left arm was entirely severed, her abdomen expertly dissected, her liver surgically removed and carefully placed between her feet, her forehead skin from her skull like the hide of an animal and the tender flesh from her thighs stripped away and placed on the bedside table along with her nose and breasts.


Such was the handiwork of the unknown assailant who murdered five At-Risk women, five prostitutes whose vocation turned out to be the pre-existing condition that put them at risk in the first place and whose grisly deaths spawned an epidemic, an epidemic of fear that paralyzed an entire city fueled by a craven media determined to sell newspapers and the killer they wrote about every single day for months on end, the invisible killer, who some believed worked as a butcher in a wet market but who experts now say was in fact a doctor, a demented doctor whose skill with a scalpel was likely developed in the hospital barely 100 yards from the spot where his first victim was overcome by a sudden shortness of breath moments after a blade was ripped across her neck and her mutilated body left to bleed out on the myriad streets of London.


A bloody beginning for the novel psychopath we remember as the first modern day serial killer. Jack the Ripper. Anyway, that's the way I heard it.