From Publishers Weekly
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)
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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.
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.