- Reading level: 18+ years
- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Plume; Reprint edition (24 June 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0452295467
- ISBN-13: 978-0452295469
- Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 1.8 x 21.1 cm
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,37,511 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Science of Fear: How the Culture of Fear Manipulates Your Brain Paperback – 24 Jun 2009
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“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
About 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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Top customer reviews
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Unfortunately, most of us are not comfortable pointing out to our friends that what they just shared is not true. As a result, social media has become a friction-less conduit for the spread of propaganda.
Propaganda messaging relies on several basic concepts and approaches to effectively persuade others. "Fear" is one of the most powerful methods and it is used frequently to "Scare" us into action or agreement. Daniel Gardner explains how this "culture of fear" is created, maintained and used to manipulate us in to actions or at least to agree with those promoting a cause or goal. He shows numerous real world examples of how activists, business leaders and politicians have used fear to push things that range from not actually true, to great exaggeration of reality. This is successful because (1) people often rely on Kahneman's System 1 "intuitive" thinking versus the rational/data-backed detail thinking of System 2 (also see Kahneman's book Thinking Fast and Slow) and they intuitively arrive at the wrong conclusions, and (2) most people misjudge or evaluate risk incorrectly. The result is that very unlikely scenarios are made to appear quite likely and end up scaring us into action.
I've learned from my readings that our media is filled with useless fluff "stories" (not news) and numerous scare mongering "stories" about fictitious projections into the future made by people wishing to influence and manipulate us. This is concept is reiterated by Gardner in Culture of Fear.
I highly recommend this book to everyone. Recognizing how everyone has been working overtime to use "fear" to scare us, I've actually seen my own anxiety levels decrease. So much of our media - and "friends" on social media - continue to try to scare us into adopting their own agendas for their own interests. But it is little more than scare mongering. Once you cut through that idea, its easy to begin ignoring it, reduce our anxiety levels and sleep much better at night.
If your kids suffer from anxiety consider it might be because the whole world is literally trying to scare them to death, even though we really do live in the best of times, historically. Think about it.
Gardner's thesis is that we are manipulated by the media and politicians into fearing dangers that are often highly improbable--but which make interesting news--all while we are led to underestimate the likelihood of dangers that are far more probable and consequential to our lives. The veracity of this thesis has been proven time and again, yet we still mostly fall for it. Look at the current political controversy over gun control for the most recent example.
The book is well worth reading. I didn't give it five stars because I had just finished reading Kahneman's book. There is overlap between the two.