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How Risky Is It, Really?: Why Our Fears Don't Always Match the Facts Hardcover – Illustrated, March 1, 2010
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About the Author
- Publisher : McGraw-Hill Education; 1st edition (March 1, 2010)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0071629696
- ISBN-13 : 978-0071629690
- Item Weight : 1.24 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #390,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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The book was a mostly enjoyable,informative read on risk PERCEPTION. And it makes the strong point that risk perception is more important than actual risk ,which is definitely the case as far as managing risk in the public arena goes. My 'spidey sense' starts tingling,however,when time after time what I feel are real risks are downplayed by the author. No,I do NOT know the specific risk of certain chemicals that get into the water system. But,as a recently retired physician in New Jersey ,the home of the Toxic Avenger , I do know that I cared for years for a patient who died of a cancer directly attributable to toxins around Pompton Lakes and plumes of chemicals that affected her water supply.And as I was reading this book i had the distinct feeling that the author was underemphasising risks.And underemphasising the power and political will of groups that have an economic stake in the field of risk perception. When an organization founded by the foundations of Scaife and Olin goes unidentified as a representative of the political Right, I have a problem with that.
I have read enough in this topic to understand that people are very poor Innate Statisticians. This was a pretty good presentation of how and why this is. And it was even pretty good at explaining why that fact is relatively unimportant.I think what put me off is that I felt that at a lot of points the author was explaining why people should be less suspicious of the chemical industry and the radiation industry and various other industries which, in my opinion ,if they were immune to financial penalties,would not bat an eye at poisoning our water supply or our air.Or kill my patient (whoa, he Personalized it so the event was more impactful!!And if I fabricated that she was only 4 years old,it would have been even MORE impactful! Cuz the victim would have been a CHILD ( which is Impact Gold) No,she was a grown-up.It was quite tragic enough,thank you. And all the people in that area should not be expected to have to work out a specific mathematical risk with a specific biochemical mechanism of injury before they are protected from potentially predatory financial interests that might poison them.
His work aligns well with the studies of other heavy weights like Antonio Damasio, Jonathan Haidt, etc.
The book points out how the "perception gap" can be harmful: individuals continue risky behavior unaware, while over-worrying about the
wrong things; public policy is shaped by self-interested or ideological pressure groups, or by public opinion driven by scaremongering media.
There are suggestions for you as an individual on how to identify and counteract these psychological risk factors. The book concludes with a
discussion of the public policy aspect of risk communication. It is hopeless to try to impose some purely rational cost-benefit analysis on
the public, rather one should start by taking these predictable psychological factors into account.
All these points are discussed via entertaining real examples. So the book deserves 5 stars for significant interesting content not readily
found elsewhere. My only quibble is that the people who will read this book are probably those predisposed to rational analysis, not the ones who might benefit most.