False Alarm: The Truth about the Epidemic of Fear

False Alarm: The Truth about the Epidemic of Fear

by Marc Siegel
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Life today for citizens of the developed world is far safer, easier, and healthier than for any other people in history. Modern medicine has all but wiped out many diseases that once were common killers. Science and technology have given us countless devices that protect our bodies from injury, secure our property, and warn us of impending disaster. And modern… See more details below

Overview

Life today for citizens of the developed world is far safer, easier, and healthier than for any other people in history. Modern medicine has all but wiped out many diseases that once were common killers. Science and technology have given us countless devices that protect our bodies from injury, secure our property, and warn us of impending disaster. And modern intelligence gathering can pinpoint threats to our domestic security as they arise. So why is an epidemic of fear sweeping America?

The answer, according to nationally renowned health commentator Dr. Marc Siegel, is that we live in an artificially created culture of fear. From the anthrax panic to the SARS "epidemic," from "official" rumors of bioterror to Orange alerts to West Nile virus—the media continually bombard us with breaking news of yet another super-bug, terrorist plot, or natural disaster that's about to wreak havoc. Most of the time the disasters never materialize. But even if they did, the odds that any of us would suffer harm from them is infinitesimally small—especially when compared to the much greater risks of dying in a car accident or from coronary heart disease.

In False Alarm, Siegel identifies three major catalysts of the culture of fear—government, the media, and big pharma. And, with the help of fascinating, blow-by-blow analyses of some of the most sensational false alarms of the past few years, he shows how those big three fearmongers manipulate our most primitive instincts—often without our even realizing it—to promote their political agendas, boost their ratings, and sell their products.

In his role as a dedicated healer, Siegel offers his prescription for inoculating ourselves against fear tactics. He shows us how to look behind the hype and hysteria and helps us to develop the emotional and intellectual skills needed to take back our lives from fearmongers.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Anthrax, vaccine shortages, and SARS, oh my! Americans have been pummeled with an endless series of apparent threats. Siegel makes a passionate argument that the only thing we have to fear is, indeed, our own paranoia. Reason, he says, is the best vaccination for this epidemic." (Psychology Today, September/October 2005)

"Marc Siegel tries to reduce the hysteria quotient with a straightforward recitation of facts and statistics. Recalling the famous Orson Welles broadcast of "The War of the Worlds," Siegel tries all too sensibly (and one suspects futilely) to assess risk accurately and respond only to "plausible" threats such as the vulnerability of our container ships or "loose nukes" in former Soviet republics." (Benamin Barber, Los Angeles Times, August 7, 2005)

Jerome Groopman
Marc Siegel is an articulate voice of reason in a world beset by hype and hysteria. We would be well advised to listen closely to what he has to say.
The New Yorker
David Corn
In this masterful and provocative work, Dr. Marc Siegel, an accomplished physician and author, skillfully dissects our present-day culture of fearmongering. An engaging and readable blend of science, politics, and social criticism, False Alarm--fully supported by extensive research--is an eloquently written and unflinching exploration of fear (real and imagined) in the modern world. Most importantly, Siegel exposes how government officials, the media, and the pharmaceutical industry exploit--and spread--fear for profit and power. They all should be scared of this powerful book.
The Nation
Publishers Weekly
I write these words on the very day that multiple bombings occurred on London's transit system. It is hard not to feel personally threatened, particularly when the aftermath becomes the focus of worldwide attention and nonstop media coverage. And therein, unfortunately, lies the power of such destruction, as the terrorists well know. After such news, we are reminded yet again of the fragility of life and the depth of love we feel for friends and family. We offer grave concern and heartfelt prayers for the dead and injured. We vow to find better ways to heighten security. We do what we can to calm ourselves and not be overtaken by fear physiology. In these days of great uncertainty, it is reassuring to learn that some of our worst-case scenarios will not necessarily come true. Such is the premise of Dr. Siegel's False Alarm. To put alarmist tendencies in perspective: over 58,000 soldiers died or were missing in action in Vietnam; on average over one million people are killed annually-and another 50 million injured-in traffic accidents around the world. In the United States, traffic accidents remain the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 35. Though it is little consolation to anyone understandably concerned about their loved ones in today's climate, it is nonetheless true that the likelihood of being involved in a terrorist incident is remarkably low. One is more likely to get killed crossing the street. Affected as we all were by the events of September 11, and subsequently inspired to study "the process by which dangers were manufactured and provoked," Siegel has compiled a remarkable response to what he calls our "newfound vulnerability" and the "ongoing doom-and-gloom of the daily news." The title of Siegel's exploration, False Alarm, is a powerful, provocative and well-chosen oxymoron. Highly qualified and deeply motivated, Siegel has conducted an intensive and much needed study of the ramifications of living in a time of pervasive fear, when we are constantly threatened with the prospect of biological and/or nuclear warfare. With so much attention paid to that which we cannot control, it is easy to lose sight of, and neglect, behavioral and lifestyle choices that clearly impact the quality of our lives. In addition, important, global health issues tend to get swept under the rug, while hysteria multiplies. Legitimate concerns go unaddressed, and valuable resources are wasted. Siegel has done us a great service. His thorough research illuminates the biological, political, psychological and sociological facets of this important topic, and offers an alternative to the current landscape of perpetual high drama and pathological fear. I enthusiastically endorse his efforts, and urge readers to take his message to heart. This is a terrific and groundbreaking book. (Aug. 26) Bob Kerrey is president of The New School, a former governor and senator from Nebraska, and member of the 9/11 Commission. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780471678694
Publisher:
Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
Publication date:
08/08/2005
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
9.21(w) x 6.14(h) x 0.63(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Marc Siegel is an articulate voice of reason in a world beset by hype and hysteria. We would be well advised to listen closely to what he has to say." –Jerome Groopman, MD, staff writer, The New Yorker

"In this masterful and provocative work, Dr. Marc Siegel, an accomplished physician and author, skillfully dissects our present-day culture of fearmongering. An engaging and readable blend of science, politics, and social criticism, False Alarm--fully supported by extensive research--is an eloquently written and unflinching exploration of fear (real and imagined) in the modern world. Most importantly, Siegel exposes how government officials, the media, and the pharmaceutical industry exploit--and spread--fear for profit and power. They all should be scared of this powerful book." -- David Corn, Washington editor of The Nation

"False Alarm asks an important question about threats from bioterrorism and emerging diseases: when should we be afraid? Siegel cuts through the hype about the "deadly" this and the "lethal" that, and applies reason in seeking the answers. Those who think for themselves will find useful guidance here."--John M. Barry, author of The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History

"Relax and put away your duct tape. In exposing the phony politics of fear, Dr. Marc Siegel proves that things aren’t as bleak as they seem. The only thing to fear is fear itself."--Bill Press, Former Host, CNN’s "Crossfire"

"A passionate aria that puts Marc Siegel stage center in the Anti-Hysteria chorus. As both an empathetic doctor and a shrewd observer of popular culture, Siegel updates that 1950s truism: Watching TV can be injurious to health...especially if you believe the hype about imminent terrorist threats and fearsome potential epidemics. False Alarm is a color-coded burst of sanity amid the fear and frenzy of 21st Century America."-- Walter Shapiro, author of One-Car Caravan

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >