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The Science of Fear: Why We Fear the Things We Shouldn't--and Put Ourselves in Greater Danger

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2010

    The Science of fear.

    This is a great book for anybody interested in psychology, politics, management, or just being a human being. The author goes into depth discussing how easily society is manipulated by fear. The book discusses this topic from a biological, evolutionary, psychological, and chemical standpoint. He shows the causes and effects of the fears we deal with every day. He shows how low risk threats control us while we ignore the threats that are really damaging our lives. The author is very insightful and does a good job of approaching this for a neutral standpoint. This is a very good book and could be in anybody's library.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    We should not really fear what we think we should!

    I gained a lot from this book. We are afraid of so many things when really the risk of these happening is so minute relative to any other day to day event, that we lose focus. Right now we are so focused on terrorism yet these are such rare acts it diverts the attention away from pending crises such as obesity and poverty, where huge numbers of people suffer. I certainly viewed the world differently after reading this book and dont generally watch the evening news any more. Count how many stories actually have anything positive to say...doom, gloom, death, murder, disease, and terrorism all sell. Is it any wonder that we are more stressed in our lives?!

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  • Posted December 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Science of Fear is a dispassionate examination of how our hunter gatherer evolved brains based react to fear, and how we use fear to manipulate ourselves and others about crime, cancer, pollution, radiation, terrorism, etc.

    By any and all measures, we actually live in the safest and healthiest time of human history, yet many of us are more fearful than ever before. Furthermore, we tend to fear highly improbable things?such as terrorist attacks or shark attacks? while calmly taking personal risks that are thousands of times more dangerous?such as driving instead of flying after 9/11 which probably added 1595 highway deaths to the impact of that attack.
    What gives? Daniel Gardner incorporates the latest scientific research to answer this question. He starts with the biological and evolutionary nature of our brains. They are optimized for hunter gatherer societies of small tribes in which immediate and viscerally experiences of threats and opportunities are coupled with herd like reactions. They are poorly equipped to deal with the indirect threats and opportunities ones and statistical evidence of modern society. On top of that, those who provide us the information that replaces visceral experience pre-filter that information through their own poorly equipped brains. Some of them try to be accurate, but many realize that fear makes stories more interesting, attracts a larger audience and motivates action. They are encouraged by this to exaggerate fear related stories while ignoring the more difficult to communicate "good news" or honest facts.
    Fear sells, perhaps even more effectively than sex! Even the well intentioned people use unjustified fear to promote worthy causes as Gardner illustrates with familiar case studies!
    Gardner discusses the issues of crime, chemical pollution, cancer, and terrorism and compares the best statistical evidence of how significant they are to our personal and national lives against the best statistical measurements of what people believe about them. The dramatic differences between reality and belief on these issues has wasted vast resources and emotional energy on relatively minor causes while leaving many major, every day threats virtually untouched.
    In spite of its title this is a fascinating and hopeful book; not a fearful one. Gardner includes tools that enable us, as individuals, to better assess our personal situations, minimize our unrealistic fears, filter fear biased information and effectively address the more significant threats and opportunities we face.
    To quote from conclusions on page 294 of the book: "So why is it that so many of the safest humans in history are scared of their own shadows? There are three basic components at work: the brain, the media, and many individuals and organizations with an interest in stoking fears. Wire these three components together in a loop and we have the circuitry of fear."
    This book has improved my understanding of our total over-reaction to 9/11 and what keeps our irrational fears of terrorism shaping feel-good but non-productive responses such as our continued military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. Prior to reading the book, I was tempted to chalk these actions up to stupidity and juvenile behavior on the part of George Bush, Dick Cheney and company. Those were triggering factors, but not the sustaining ones.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2009

    great book, very enlightening

    This book does a great job explaining how the media has programmed us all to be completely irrational in ways in which we thought we were rational. <BR/><BR/>This is a must read book for anyone with a vote. This will change the way you consume the news and will require you demand more from your news sources. <BR/><BR/>This book will also help you analyze everyday decisions you make in your life that you could be making for the exact wrong reasons.

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