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


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Reprint edition (June 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452295467
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452295469
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"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

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 International's Media Award and the Michener Award. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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See all 19 customer reviews
I liked both the theoretical explanations, and practical examples with recommendations.
Amazon Customer
In a nutshell, this book is 300 pages of reliable statistics that say, "Things are much better than everyone says. There's really no need to worry."
Trixie
This book is a great book to get an understanding of fear and many of the causes and consequences of it.
Dr. Pepper

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 3, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is the best book on the subject that I've read. I liked both the theoretical explanations, and practical examples with recommendations. It is impartial, and also shows how the risks of the rare but emotionally significant events are overinflated and overused by media and politicians, and also how our own brains and "guts" mislead us in our daily life. Well-written, I recommend it to everyone.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Pepper on January 4, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a great book to get an understanding of fear and many of the causes and consequences of it. HOWEVER! The author gets a little stat happy at the end... he argues that fear of things like terrorism is really nothing to worry about when you look at the numerous causes of death that we face every day in our society. I think it's an apples to oranges comparison that should have been in a book on statistics versus a book on fear. Many other statistical comparisons are throughout the book, and some are very useful... but some can be left out. Overall, a good book, but as the title states, could have been reduced by 75 pages and been just as effective.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Curt Howard on September 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
Being in the field of risk management, I understand how much of our lives is devoted to managing what we call high consequence/low occurance risks. Gardner does an excellent job, showing how billions of dollars are spent on things like making safer schools and yet the probability of something happening to our children outside of school is astronomically greater than the risks they have within school. How the media manipulates risk is also examined in great detail, with the recounting of the hype over the danger of silicone breast implants, although there was never any conclusive medical evidence that implants caused cancer. Having read this book shortly after the BP oil spill and the earthquake/tsunami damage in Japan and the public outcry, you could see the authors points dramatically illustrated every day.

I recommend this book, not just for people in my industry of risk management, but for every citizen looking to put a true filter on the things that we needlessly let paralyze our way of lives.
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25 of 35 people found the following review helpful By J. Reicherts on April 14, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
and you know, 40% of all statistics are made up on the spot.
this book isn't quite what i was after-i think i was looking for more of a neuroscience approach with a blend of psychology, whereas this is a bulk of sociology and statistics with a healthy mix of psychology, with some interesting social experiments referenced.
Not to say it's a bad book, it's actually quite the eye opener, and i would absolutely recommend it. very insightful with regards to media and advertising.
my only complaints are 1, it seems a few times the author lets a little of his personal bias towards a few of the specific subjects show. for example, i clearly get the impression that the author thinks all vaccinations are completely safe, and that the "anti-vaccination people" are illogical or misinformed. this topic i feel has a great many points on both sides, both with scientific data and both with respected educated voices to back up their points, and it should not be presented as a fear manipulated position in a book on fear.
and 2, a couple times you are presented with questions that are somewhat brain teasers, and the answer is no where in the book, not even the end sections. ~frustrating--
overall though not a bad read. flows well and for the most part holds your interest.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dale Sadler on September 2, 2010
Format: Paperback
With politicians, the media, and corporations vying for our support, it's good to read a book that stands to gain because of its enlightenment factor rather than its level of fear mongering. Gardner gives example after example of how societal minions make us believe something and then watch as we bite their bait. Is research ever considered? You'll be surprised as to how little it actually is.

A politician for instance has to go further and seem tougher on an issue than his opponent or he'll appear weak. No mention of the validity of the idea is ever made; only that it's stronger than the other guy's. And people buy it.

What if I told you (as a politician) that from the early to the mid 1900s, cancer went from the 4th killer of children to the 1st? Then, what if I told you that if elected, I'd work at getting funding for research in order to stop this growing epidemic? Would you vote for me? Probably. Especially if you were close to someone who had recently died of cancer. Now that I have your vote, let me tell you that cancer didn't go from 4th to 1st because it was killing more children. It moved to that prime spot because medical science was eradicating other diseases that also killed children. If spots 1, 2, & 3 are gone, 4th easily becomes 1st. That's politics I suppose.

Gardner's book is replete with examples like this. People make decisions, not based on numbers, but based on their gut feeling of the information that is presented to them. This is dangerous and sad.

You're more likely to get killed in a car crash driving on the way to work than you are of terrorism, but which do you fear most? We spend money on things that we fear but shouldn't and ignore things that put us in constant danger.
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