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That National Weather Service warning of this morning issued Friday to low-lying coastal areas of Texas threatened by Hurricane Ike–“PERSONS NOT HEEDING EVACUATION ORDERS IN SINGLE FAMILY ONE OR TWO STORY HOMES MAY FACE CERTAIN DEATH”–reminded us of an age-old question: Which is worse? To know you may face certain death, or to know you definitely will face possible death? 

If it were me down there, hearing I might face certain death would make it sound like just another day. But I appreciate that the National Weather Service was trying to do something tricky: Terrify the public without creating panic.