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Paperback Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear. Dan Gardner Book

ISBN: 0753515539

ISBN13: 9780753515532

Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear. Dan Gardner

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

"An invaluable resource for anyone who aspires to think clearly" ( The Guardian ) from the New York Times bestselling author of Superforecasting and Future Babble From terror attacks to collapsing... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Simply excellent!

If you consume media and live in modern society, reading this book should be a requirement. Do so and you'll know what I mean.


Nutshell review - (Based on the hard-cover version) - This is a fascinating read and provides an excellent insight into the world of fear; why we fear what we do, the mental processes driving our fears, the creation and marketing of fear, and how we may develop techniques to stop being afraid of the wrong things and start thinking clearly about serious issues. It's the science of behavioural economics as applied to fear. The book is very well written, easy to absorb, and entertaining but at the same time backed up by academic studies and research. The style is witty and light and manages to keep the reader's attention throughout. If you have an interest into why we fear the things we do, or perhaps think that you are not influenced by the fear mongers and are totally rational, then this will be an eye-opening journey for you. The last chapter or two contains some bashing of the Bush administration in respect of the "war on terror" but it is not unrelated to the central points the book is making. Other books that will compliment this one are Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely and The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things by Barry Glassner

The World is not so bad

A rational look at some of the things we love to worry about. Plane crashes, child pornography, cancer and the environmental holicost. Unless you take more satisfaction in perpetuating popular anxieties than understanding their actual risks - this book is for you. There are things we should be worried about (fear), and others that are suprisingly unlikely to occur. If you have a mathematical heart you will love it, if you are simply rational by nature you will enjoy it and feel better after having read it. By all means, go for it!

Well balanced. Refreshing perspective.

"Why do we fear a proliferating number of relatively minor risks? Why do we so often shrug off greater threats? Why have we become a "culture of fear"? This book is one of several that I've been reading about the subject of the underlying factors of hyped risk perception, scaremongering environmentalism and the like. While Bjorn Lomborg's The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World still remains, for me, at the top, I believe it is a little too hard to read for the casual reader. [Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming (Vintage) is so much better in this regard!] Gardner's "Science of Fear" is a very well written, fresh and entertaining book. It also analyzes the concept of "unreasoning fear" and a broad set of contributing factors, including the anthropological/psychological-evolutionary basis for our pre-historic and obsolete "fear management" system, our cognitive biases and innumeracy, the media approach to newstime (mis)information and the industry of fear that surrounds us. The book is also enrichening and stimulates our critical thinking abilities as it explores and debunks some of the usual suspects for major media hype and junkscience marketing: crime, chemicals and terrorism. In effect, as the author puts it, there's never been a better time to be alive...and still, as a society, we are held at gunpoint by unjustified unreasoning fear.

Required reading for all policymakers, journalists, and citizens

If I were a rich man, I'd buy thousands of copies of this book, and send one to every member of Congress, along with the president, the vice president, every cabinet secretary, every governor and state legislator, and every journalist in America. This book ought to be required reading for every student of political science and public policy, as well as every student of journalism. In fact, it ought to be required reading for every student in every high school and university in the country. This book is really that important; especially now, as our nation is sinking deeper and deeper into a culture of pervasive, irrational fear. We, as a society, are afraid. And we're mainly afraid of things that, by any objective measure, do not pose significant threats to our safety and well-being; while virtually ignoring the real dangers that lurk all around us. We panic at the very thought of terrorism, airplane crashes, exotic diseases, serial killers, school shootings, sexual predators, and the like -- dangers that are extremely rare, and are responsible for relatively few deaths worldwide each year -- while being totally blasé about more common dangers such as automobile accidents, unhealthy lifestyle choices (e.g. smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise), and inadequate health care, which are responsible for the lion's share of deaths worldwide each year. People tend to exaggerate the dangers posed by things they don't understand very well, such as weapons of mass destruction, nuclear power, chemicals in the environment, and genetically modified foods; but downplay the dangers posed by things they encounter every day, such as cars, swimming pools, ladders, and junk food. This book explains why it is that we fear things we probably shouldn't, but don't fear things we probably should. The explanation has a lot to do with how our brains work. It also has a lot to do with the fact that some people have a vested interest in feeding and exploiting our irrational fears for their own ends -- including terrorists, politicians, lobbyists, business leaders, advertisers, and (perhaps most egregiously) the media. This book is a much-needed antidote to the toxic effects of the culture of fear we now live in. Everyone needs to read this.
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