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The Science of Fear: How the Culture of Fear Manipulates Your Brain Paperback – June 24, 2009


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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 (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,502 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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This is the best book on the subject that I've read.
Amazon Customer
Its essentially a bunch of statistics that i really liked in the beginning, but got really bored with as the book went on , and frankly started skimming it.
Jdiesel77
The book is again, chock full of statistics and studies on various topics, and has a handful of anecdotes as well.
Trixie

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 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 Trixie on March 24, 2014
Format: Paperback
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."

Gardner does a good job of first explaining how our minds work by describing the difference between our logical sense "head" that often conflict with our emotional sense "gut". He then goes on to tell us how our seeing horrible things happen make us paranoid even if they are truly one in a million things. There is also a lot about how the media and advertising exploit people's irrational fears over frightening, but rare things like child abduction, violent crime, and deadly diseases in young people. The book is again, chock full of statistics and studies on various topics, and has a handful of anecdotes as well.

I took one star off this book because Gardner did get repetitive with almost every point he was making. The beating of a dead horse made the book dry at times, but it's still a very good read. Recommend it to the worry wart in your life!
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25 of 36 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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3 of 4 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 4 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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27 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Jdiesel77 on December 9, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this book very interesting in concept, however i got so bored with it. Essentially the story is this: People are afraid of things they shouldn't be as afraid of, and not as afraid of the things they should be. For example, people are afraid to fly, but u have a much greater chance of dying in a car crash. People are afraid of cancer, but u have a better chance of dying from the flu. Things like this are stated throughout the book. We are afraid of this bc of that but these are the statistics on why we are afraid of this and that. Its essentially a bunch of statistics that i really liked in the beginning, but got really bored with as the book went on , and frankly started skimming it. Decent book to read but just got really bored with it....
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