MOAB is also spelled FEAR. Stand against it — but don’t fall for it.

The media’s reporting of MOAB was irresponsible and bordering on hysteria. Social media went full panic mode.

I turned on Twitter today at the wrong time: exactly when the news would crash about MOAB. My feed was overflowing with news headlines and commentary that “we dropped the biggest non-nuclear bomb in our arsenal” (MOAB = Mother Of All Bombs) on Afghanistan.

“US drops largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan”

“U.S. unleashes ‘mother of all bombs’ for first time in Afghanistan”

“United States drops a MOAB in combat for the first time”

And on and on.

Then we had activists and pundits, many of whom are otherwise sharp, simply echoing the media:

“Was a bomb that’s one step below a nuke necessary?”

“Donald Trump … dropped the biggest non-nuke we have”

And so on.

You could also click the MOAB hashtag, or just watch your political friends tweeting, and you would see the same major point echoed. Usually in the same, exact, few words and phrases.

“It’s the biggest bomb we have that isn’t a nuke.”

“It’s a step below a nuke.”

Even:

‘It’s a weapon of mass destruction.”

Etc, etc, etc.

What would anyone think who was observing all these headlines?

We dropped some major bombage almost like a nuclear bomb but not quite.

THAT WOULD BE MAJOR NEWS, even a major event in world history.

While everyone was freaking out, I went to look up exactly what was meant by “the biggest non-nuclear weapon”, aka, the MOAB.

With a simple comparison of basic data, found through a quick Google search, I learned that the MOAB, aka “the biggest bomb that isn’t a nuke”, “one step below a nuke”, etc, actually has 10,000x less payload than a “low-level” modern nuclear warhead:

~10 tons TNT (MOAB)
versus
100,000 tons TNT (warhead on a “low level” trident missile)

Now I’m no nuclear math scientist person, but that seems like a huge difference. Nobody was talking about this difference or what this difference actually means in reality (blast radius, for example).

Then I saw some people making false (or simply dubious and unsourced) statements about the bomb’s blast radius, its effects on the people nearby, who was bombed, etc.

While I don’t know the specific circumstances of the military operation at this point (neither does most or all of the public), I do have a general opinion on contemporary U.S. wars and million-dollar bombs: We got money for wars but “can’t” feed the poor; each bomb used is a teacher’s salary wasted; killing people is generally immoral and tends to create, rather than destroy, terrorism; and so on — but that’s not my focus right now. This is a commentary on the media creating fear through half-truths and irresponsible journalism — and the public falling for it.


Later in the day, more people would begin to question these news reports. It turns out that at least one news channel reported that the MOAB is close in payload to the first U.S. atomic bomb dropped in WWII— that information spread for a while, but now appears to be snuffed out.

Other misinformation spread about the nature of the bomb: that it’s a cluster bomb, would destroy Manhattan, or whatever — and that, too, is starting to die down.

But what I’m wondering is why so many people, even smart people, failed to do basic research on such an important issue — before reacting and spreading the news? This bomb is barely bigger than the other bombs we’ve been dropping for decades on similar targets. That’s not to say it was okay then, or it’s okay now. It’s that in context, this is not such a significant event as the news made it seem, and as everyone quickly echoed verbatim.

It’s basically just another bomb. A really expensive bomb, with a slightly larger blast, but the bomb is not that different from other conventional bombs. On a scale of 1 to 10, if 1 is a conventional bomb and 10 is a nuclear bomb, this bomb is something like a 1.1.

The news, and everyone echoing the news, however, made it seem like this was a 7/10 and a historical event.

While the headlines about MOAB being “the largest non-nuclear bomb” were technically true, you can also see how a technically accurate statement can be dishonest — and utilized to create hysteria, whether intended that way or not.

The MOAB does seem to have a specialized tactical purpose, but its main purpose seems far different than the destruction it did to its physical target. Its effects were indeed felt around the world: MOAB was a jackpot for the bored and unethical media, and caused everyone to panic in mass fear. MOAB was a physical bomb, but more than that, it was a psychological bomb.

For those who like Donald Trump and whatever he does, including bombing “terrorist” boogeymen, it emboldened them. The ones “for” his war and for Trump in general began to salivate at the perceived “power” of what was basically just another bomb, but which was implied by the media (and virtually everyone else) to be a huge escalation in military action.

Everyone else, just got scared. And when people get too scared, over false info, they do irrational things.

What’s my point?

Question the media. Make them do responsible journalism and hold them accountable. Do simple research, especially when we are supposed to react in fear or be emboldened by violence.

Question the mainstream narrative. Don’t just repeat what everyone else is saying when there could be major consequences to repeating those dubious statements.

Stay rational, level-headed, and make decisions based on context and a more informed perspective.

The alternative is to be caught in the whims of those who want us to be scared, and those who just want us to tune in, or click, for ratings and profits. I’m sick of that kind of world, aren’t you?

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