Scared to Death: The Anatomy of a Very Dangerous Phenomenon

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From salmonella in eggs to BSE, from the Millennium Bug to bird ‘flu, from DDT to passive smoking, from asbestos to global warming, ‘scares' have become one of the most conspicuous and damaging features of our modern world. This book for the first time tells the inside story of each of the major scares of the past two decades, showing how they have followed a remarkably consistent pattern.

It analyses the crucial role played in each case by scientists who have misread or ...

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Overview

From salmonella in eggs to BSE, from the Millennium Bug to bird ‘flu, from DDT to passive smoking, from asbestos to global warming, ‘scares' have become one of the most conspicuous and damaging features of our modern world. This book for the first time tells the inside story of each of the major scares of the past two decades, showing how they have followed a remarkably consistent pattern.

It analyses the crucial role played in each case by scientists who have misread or manipulated the evidence; by the media and lobbyists who eagerly promote the scare without regard to the facts; and finally by the politicians and officials who come up with an absurdly disproportionate response, leaving us all to pay a colossal price, which may run into billions or even hundreds of billions of pounds.

The book culminates in a chillingly detailed account of the story behind what it shows has become the greatest scare of them all: the belief that the world faces disaster through man-made global warming. In an epilogue the authors compare our credulity in falling for scares to mass-hysterias of previous ages such as the post-mediaeval ‘witch craze', describing our time as a ‘new age of superstition'.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826486141
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 1/10/2008
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 512
  • Product dimensions: 5.69 (w) x 8.75 (h) x 1.83 (d)

Meet the Author

As a noted commentator on the political, social and psychological history of our time, Christopher Booker has in recent years, through his weekly Sunday Telegraph column, become the most conspicuous 'global warming sceptic' in the British press. He has based his view on exhaustive research into the scientific evidence for and against the theory of 'man-made climate change'.

His professional interest in this issue grew out of research for his previous book Scared To Death, co-written with Dr Richard North, a study of the 'scare phenomenon' which has been such a prominent feature of Western life in recent decades. Booker's other recent books have included The Seven Basic Plots, a best-selling analysis of why we tell stories which has established itself as a standard text (also published by Continuum). He has been an author and journalist for nearly 50 years, and was the founding editor of the satirical magazine Private Eye.

Richard North is a political analyst who has been a research director in the European Parliament and was formerly a nationally-known consultant on public health and food safety. He has co-authored several books with Christopher Booker.

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Table of Contents

CONTENTS
Introduction

Part One: The Food Scares

Prologue

Chapter One: Countdown to an Explosion: How Scares Became A Disaster Waiting To Happen, 1981-8

Chapter Two: 'Killer Eggs': The Great Salmonella Scare 1988-9

Chapter Three: Enter the Hygiene Police: Paying The Price 1990-4

Chapter Four: 'Listeria Hysteria': The Lanark Blue Case 1995

Chapter Five: Mad Cows and Madder Politicians: The BSE/CJD Scare 1996-9

Chapter Six: Officials Can Kill: Meat, Cheese and E coli 1998

Chapter Seven: The £1 Billion Blunder: The Belgian Dioxins Debacle 1999

Epilogue to Part One: The Rise of the 'Health and Safety Culture'.

Part Two: The General Scares

Prologue to Part Two: The Millennium Bug.

Chapter Eight: Sledgehammers To Miss Nuts: A Wider Look At The Scare phenomenon (DDT, Nitrate, Vitamin B6, Cockles).

Chapter Nine: The Modern Witch Craze: Ritualised Child Abuse

Chapter Ten: 'Speed Kills: A Safety Scare That Cost Lives.

Chapter Eleven: 'We Love Unleaded': How Confusion Over Lead Cost Billions

Chapter Twelve: Smoke and Mirrors: How They Turned 'Passive Smoking' Into A Killer

Chapter Thirteen: 'One Fibre Can Kill': The Great Asbestos Scam.

Chapter Fourteen: 'Saving The Planet': The New Secular Religion

Chapter Fifteen: 'Licensed To Kill': The Scare That Never Was

Epilogue: A New Age of Superstition.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2007

    A reviewer

    Journalist Christopher Booker and former food safety consultant Dr Richard North have written a fascinating book on the rash of scares in the last 20 years. They earlier worked together on a brilliant book on the European Union The great deception. They study the food scares - salmonella in eggs (1988-9), listeria in cheese, BSE in beef (1996-9) and dioxins in Belgian poultry (1999). Other scares they discuss include the Millennium bug (1999), DDT, the satanic child abuse mania (1987-94), lead, passive smoking, asbestos, SARS, bird flu (2005) (which the World Health Organisation absurdly called `the greatest single health challenge¿), organophosphorus, and global warming. They note that banning DDT has killed two million people every year, because DDT had cut malaria deaths by 95%. The EU backed the ban on DDT. Organophosphorus, used in sheep dip, was `MAFF-approved¿, and an HSE leaflet warned of its `cumulative toxicity¿ leading to `irreversible¿ damage to the nervous system, akin to ME and Gulf War Syndrome (which also never happened, according to the MoD). The government suppressed the whole story, because it was directly responsible. A review in the Independent claimed that their chapter on global warming had scarcely any scientific references. It has 117, including important articles in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, the Journal of Geophysical Research, Energy and Environment, the International Journal of Climatology, six from Nature and five from Science. The authors expose as exaggerated the claims of climate doom. They point out that historically rising CO2 levels are associated both with rising and falling temperatures and that the overall ice mass of the Antarctic, which has 89.5% of the world¿s ice, is increasing, as is Greenland¿s (10%). They study the roles of scientists, the media, politicians, officials and non-governmental organisations, especially the `animal rights¿ groups. All these scares, and others from the witch craze to McCarthyism to the war scares over Iraq and Iran, always give the message ¿ trust the government, pay the huge costs of protection. The real message of the scares for us must be ¿ always look at the evidence not the spin, and seek the truth.

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