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Risk: A Practical Guide for Deciding What's Really Safe and What's Really Dangerous in the World Around You Paperback – October 28, 2002


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Risk: A Practical Guide for Deciding What's Really Safe and What's Really Dangerous in the World Around You + How Risky Is It, Really?: Why Our Fears Don't Always Match the Facts + Risk: A Very Short Introduction
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 485 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1st edition (October 28, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618143726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618143726
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,017,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

For those who can't find enough time in a day to worry about all of life's possible dangers, there's a new book to help them prioritize. Risk: A Practical Guide for Deciding What's Really Safe and What's Really Dangerous in the World Around You is a fascinating assessment of the level of threat posed by various illnesses, accidents, environmental pollutants and other factors. David Ropeik, director of risk communication at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, and his colleague George Gray, a toxicologist, evaluate such real or perceived menaces as cell phones, biological weapons, pesticides, mad cow disease and medical errors. For each entry, they analyze the potential hazards and offer tips for reducing risk. They also include a "Risk Meter"-a chart that shows likelihood of exposure and severity of consequences at a glance. 25 b&w illus.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"Explores the hazards of of everyday activites at home, work and elsewhere..." The New York Daily News

"An endlessly fascinating reference book, to be consulted occasionally in time of need and in time of curiosity." The Denver Post

More About the Author

Hi. I am an Instructor at Harvard University and a consultant, teacher, and speaker on risk perception, risk communication, and risk management. I was Instructor of risk communication at the Harvard School of Public Health, and was co-director of the school's professional education course 'The Risk Communication Challenge'.
I co-authored "RISK, A Practical Guide for Deciding What's Really Safe and What's Really Dangerous in the World Around You", published by Houghton Mifflin in 2002.
I am creator and director of the program "Improving Media Coverage of Risk", a training program for journalists.
I was a television reporter for WCVB-TV in Boston from 1978 - 2000, where I specialized in reporting on environment and science issues. I was lucky enough to twice win the DuPont-Columbia Award, one of the highest honors in broadcast journalism, and seven regional EMMY awards. I was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT 1994-95, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Society of Environmental Journalists from 1991-2000. I've taught journalism at Boston University, Tufts University, and MIT.



Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Gaetan Lion on July 11, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book on the subject of risk analysis focused on 48 specific risks we encounter in everyday life. The book is divided in three parts. Part I describes mainly discretionary or behavioral risks. These consist mainly of risks we choose to incur such as smoking, drinking alcohol, and drinking coffee. Part II focuses on environmental risks. These are risks that we bear, and for the most part can't avoid such as water and air pollution. Part III describe Medical related risks. As the authors specify these are often more outcomes than risks. For instance, cancer and heart disease are not direct risks, they are outcome of a combination of deficient nutrition, bad lifestyle habits (lack of exercise), and inherited genes.
The authors make an excellent effort to come up with the most current and objective scientific knowledge. They avoid all the hype in the media that may exaggerate or understate various risks. After reading this excellent book, it is interesting to notice that by far the biggest risks to our health and survival are the behavioral risks or the risks we choose to undertake. These include smoking, drinking, obesity, and also sun tanning. These risks are far greater than pesticides, water pollution, air pollution, electro magnetic fields, and radiation from cellular phones. Thus, the authors do a good job to strengthen our common sense based on scientific evidence instead of going crazy due to misinformation by the media.
The book is excellent for several reasons. First, the authors have a solid scientific background themselves. Second, they fully recognized that no matter how smart you are, you just can't be the number one expert in everything.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 30, 2002
Format: Paperback
FINALLY a book that translates hard science into concise, interesting, and readable text that anyone (even a child) can understand. This book is full of surprises too. I found comfort in understanding that some things I'm afraid are actually quite UNLIKELY to affect me while others I pay no attention to are REAL risks. From "accidents" to "x-rays", 48 chapters include other topics like: Air bags, articificial sweeteners, Bad Backs, Caffeine, School Buses, Mad Cow Disease, biological weapons, indoor air pollution, lead, pesticides, Radon, breast implants, mammography, sexually transmitted disease, and a an eye-opening one on medical errors. A necessary home reference guide with valuable basic knowledge.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous Reviewer on June 28, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been interested in the topic of perceived versus real risks for quite some time. When I bought this book I was hoping for a source for comparisons of data that would be useful to someone with such interests. While this book addresses many common risk situations with practical advice regarding them it lacks much really hard data or statistical analysis. No specific references are provided (footnotes, end notes, sources) for teh materials in the book. However, sources for further investigation do appear regularly at the end of each chapter.

Also, despite publication in 2002, after the "9/11" attack and all of its attendant fall-out it fails to address even at a superficial level the preceived risks of terrorism in the US. In the index the word terrorism is noted "see biological weapons (bioweapons); perceived risk." In my opinion, this lack of coverage is glaring. Granted the book was doubtless in the works before 9/11; still, had I been the author or publisher, I'd have delayed publication until a relevant section could have been added.

This is a handy book, a relatively easy read, and probably a decent introduction to the basic concepts of relative risk assessment. As long as one understands this is a basic layperson's text and not a serious look at risk assessment, this may be a good book for you.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lazarus on December 31, 2003
Format: Paperback
Did you know that when you read about cancer rates, skin cancer is not included because it occurs so frequently it skews the statistics? That is the sort of information you need to know, and will find in RISK.
This is an excellent book which really puts things in perspective. It's a MUST HAVE book that should be on everyone's bookshelf.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Doc Dave on October 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
I thought this was a really fun and interesting book to read, and it is great for learning to think about things from a public health perspective. It also introduces a wide variety of scientific terms and concepts in an interesting and easy to read way. While I believe that the general conclusions on specific risks are valid in a general sense, I also feel as though the heavy reliance on population data makes this less of a practical guide on the individual level. For example, looking at the risk of developing health problems due to air pollution for the U.S. population in general is interesting and informative but may not accurately reflect my individual risk in New Jersey. Because of the complexities involved in risk assessment, I thought the risk meter presentations (although very interesting, and truly a browser's delight) were too general and simplistic. In the author's defense, the narratives often give more practical detail, identify modifiable risk factors and acknowledge some limitations of the data and assessments. While at times I took issue with the validity of generalizing the data and the practicality of some conclusions at the individual level, I recommend this book highly for those interested in how public health risk is evaluated.
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