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The Science of Fear: How the Culture of Fear Manipulates Your Brain
     

The Science of Fear: How the Culture of Fear Manipulates Your Brain

4.0 8
by Daniel Gardner
 

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“An invaluable resource for anyone who aspires to think clearly” (The Guardianfrom the New York Times bestselling author of Superforecasting and Future Babble

From terror attacks to collapsing economies, from painkiller epidemics to mass gun violence and poisonous toys from China, our list

Overview

“An invaluable resource for anyone who aspires to think clearly” (The Guardianfrom the New York Times bestselling author of Superforecasting and Future Babble

From terror attacks to collapsing economies, from painkiller epidemics to mass gun violence and poisonous toys from China, our list of fears seems to be exploding. Yet we are the safest and healthiest humans in history. Why are we so worried?

The Science of Fear is an introduction to the new brain science of risk, dissecting the fears that misguide and manipulate us every day. Award-winning journalist Dan Gardner demonstrates how irrational fear springs from the ways humans miscalculate risks based on our hunter-gatherer brains. With the exclusive cooperation of risk-science pioneer Paul Slovic and other leading experts, Gardner reveals how our "gut" reactions lead us astray. Understanding our irrational fears frees us from political and corporate manipulation, and makes our choices better. Ultimately, The Science of Fear will make you brave.

“Excellent... Analyzes everything from the media’s predilection for irrational scare stories to the cynical use of fear by politicians… [A] cheery corrective to modern paranoia.”—The Economist
 
“An entertaining, often jolting account of why trivial risks terrify us, even as we engage in wildly dangerous activities with hardly a qualm.”—Kirkus (starred review)
 
“Elegantly weaves academic research and everyday experience, exposing the secrets of emotion and reason, and the essential roles they play on our lives. An excellent book.”—Dan Ariely, New York Times bestselling author of Predictably Irrational


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“An excellent work... a cheery corrective to modern paranoia.”—The Economist
 
“An invaluable resource for anyone who aspires to think clearly.”—The Guardian
 
“An entertaining, often jolting account of why trivial risks terrify us, even as we engage in wildly dangerous activities with hardly a qualm.”—Kirkus (starred review)
 
“Gardner’s vivid, direct style, backed up by clear examples and solid data from science and psychology, brings a breath of fresh air and common sense to an emotional topic.”—Publisher's Weekly
 
“Elegantly weaves academic research and everyday experience, exposing the secrets of emotion and reason, and the essential roles they play on our lives. An excellent book.”—Dan Ariely, New York Times bestselling author of Predictably Irrational
 
“Essential reading for anyone interested in the social mistakes we make every day—and how to fix them.”—Tyler Cowen, author of Discover Your Inner Economist
 
“Those of us who spend our careers in research hope that someone like Daniel Gardner will come along and bring our findings to the world in an engaging and scientifically accurate way.”—Paul Slovic, Professor of Psychology, University of Oregon
 
“Compelling... By showing how to read statistics properly and engage the head over gut instinct, Gardner aims to get us thinking more carefully about how we run our lives—and make it harder for politicians, the media and advertisers to lead us astray.”—The New Scientist
 
“Terrific... As a writer, he's exceptionally good—he has the clarity of Malcolm Gladwell.... He takes you through a maze of difficult academic work, and makes it seem simple.”—The Evening Standard
 
“A fascinating insight into the peculiar and devastating nature of human fear, while training the reader to be ever wary of misleading media announcements.”—The Daily Telegraph
 
“Elegantly summarizes the results of psychological research... His chapters on the risk of being a victim of crime or terrorism provoke a peculiar mix of comfort and despair. It is heartening that the danger is slight; it's unsettling how skewed our political system and consumer culture are towards convincing us of the opposite.”—The Observer

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781440638084
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
07/17/2008
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
792,523
File size:
603 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"Excellent...analyses everything from the media's predilection for irrational scare stories to the cynical use of fear by politicians... [A] cheery corrective to modern paranoia."
-The Economist

Meet the Author

DAN GARDNER is the New York Times bestselling author of books about psychology and decision-making. His books have been published in 21 countries and 17 languages.

In The Science of Fear, Gardner reveals why we so often worry about what we shouldn’t and don’t worry about what we should. The Guardian called it “an invaluable resource for anyone who aspires to think clearly.”

In Future Babble, Gardner looks at the dismal record of expert forecasts and why we keep listening to overconfident pundits. Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker said it “should be required reading for journalists, politicians, academics, and anyone who listens to them.”

In Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction, Gardner and co-author Philip Tetlock distill important lessons about forecasting, teamwork, and good judgment. Superforecasting was chosen as one of the best books of 2015 by The Economist, Bloomberg, and Amazon.

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The Science of Fear: Why We Fear the Things We Shouldn't--and Put Ourselves in Greater Danger 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly recommended
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
J-E More than 1 year ago
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?!
Old_Timer_37 More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.

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.

This book will also help you analyze everyday decisions you make in your life that you could be making for the exact wrong reasons.