Synopses & Reviews
From terror attacks to the war on terror, real estate bubbles to the price of oil, sexual predators to poisoned food from China, our list of fears is ever-growing. And yet, we are the safest and healthiest humans in history. Irrational fear seems to be taking over, often with tragic results. For example, in the months after 9/11, when people decided to drive instead of flybelieving they were avoiding riskroad deaths rose by more than 1,500.
In this fascinating, lucid, and thoroughly entertaining examination of how humans process risk, journalist Dan Gardner had the exclusive cooperation of Paul Slovic, the world renowned risk-science pioneer, as he reveals how our hunter gatherer brains struggle to make sense of a world utterly unlike the one that made them. Filled with illuminating real world examples, interviews with experts, and fast-paced, lean storytelling, The Science of Fear shows why it is truer than ever that the worst thing we have to fear is fear itself.
"Gardner, a columnist and senior writer for the Ottawa Citizen, is both matter-of-fact and entertaining in this look at fear and how it shapes our lives. Although we are capable of reason, says Gardner, we often rely instead on intuitive snap judgments. We also assume instinctively, but incorrectly, that '[i]f examples of something can be recalled easily, that thing must be common.' And what is more memorable than headlines and news programs blaring horrible crimes and diseases, plane crashes and terrorist attacks? In fact, such events are rare, but their media omnipresence activates a gut-level fear response that is out of proportion to the likelihood of our going through such an event. It doesn't help that scientific data and statistics are often misunderstood and misused and that our risk assessment is influenced less by the facts than by how others respond. 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. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
The Science of Fear
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, author of New York Times bestseller Predictably Irrational
Where writers such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Francis Wheen have been content largely to enumerate the errors of less rational men and women, Dan Gardner has collated part of what we need to diagnose the problem. If skeptics spent less time moaning about the propensity of their fellows to believe what they want to believe and more time asking why they do so, there might not be such a crisis of reason in the West today.
Terrific. Exceptionally good
Has the clarity of Malcolm Gladwell.
. analyses everything from the medias predilection for irrational scare stories to the cynical use of fear by politicians pushing a particular agenda
. Gardner never falls into the trap of becoming frustrated and embittered by the waste and needless worry that he is documenting. A personal anecdote about an unwise foray into a Nigerian slum in search of a stolen wallet disposes of the idea that the author is immune to the foibles he describes. What could easily have been a catalogue of misgovernance and stupidity instead becomes a cheery corrective to modern paranoia.
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. Thank you, Dan! Some books can change the world. This one might.
--Paul Slovic, Professor of Psychology, University of Oregon, past President of The Society for Risk Analysis
Fear needs a science and Daniel Gardner offers a fast-paced tour of what the most interesting researchers have revealed. The number of things that you don't need to be afraid of is encouraging, but finding out why we still do fear them anyway is fascinating. Essential reading for anyone interested in the social mistakes we make everyday--and how to fix them.
--Tyler Cowen, author of Discover Your Inner Economist
An invaluable resource for anyone who aspires to think clearly.
--The Guardian Elegantly summarises the results of psychological research
Gardner is forensic in his dissection of bogus claims in advertising and politics, just as he is lucid about the science explaining why they work.
A fascinating insight into the peculiar and devastating nature of human fear, while training the reader to be ever wary of misleading media announcements.
"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."
A timely and entertaining psychological look at why we're afraid and what to do about it
From terror attacks to bursting real estate bubbles, from crystal meth epidemics to online sexual predators 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 Daniel 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, and our lives braver.
About the Author
Daniel Gardner is a columnist and senior writer for The Ottawa Citizen . He has received numerous awards for his writing, including Amnesty Internationals Media Award and the Michener Award.