This book has confirmed a view I have held for several years, that "news" is poisonous. Being informed on issues of social or other import is important, but news, especially TV news, is a terrible way to become informed.
I have read a couple of books on this theme before, especially The Culture of Fear. But what sets this book apart is the detailed, admirably researched discussion of how human neurology, psychology and sociology are behind most of what goes on. Instead of depicting the media as a sinister force that corrupts our minds, as The Culture of Fear does, Gardner points out that the reporters are subject to the same effects of fear on the brain that influences the public. Many psychology studies, well-known and obscure, are described and discussed.
Part of this psychology research has been into how to defeat these biases and blind spots introduced by our "Gut". One of the best is to be aware of these subconscious biases and confident enough in our rational, "Head", judgments to override "Gut"'s mistaken snap judgments.
Gardner is an expert writer, and this book is a powerful page-turner.
Erudite and well argued book on how our understanding of risk - developed over several 100 thousand years as hunters & gatherers - comes up spectacularly short in the modern world. And how these short comings in understaning objective risk kill. Read this book to increase your and your kids' odds of surviving AND live life to it's fullest.
This is a great book. Dan Gardner articulates precisely what I only had a vague sense of, that is a completely inaccurate sense of proportion that inflicts all of society. Immunization can have side effects, you may even die, but it's nowhere near as dangerous as getting tuberculosis, the flu or one of the other many killers. We hear about a murder on the other side of town, and we are nervous about our safety, but the chance of getting murdered is so remote, it's inconsequential, we should worry more about choking on a hot dog, and certainly driving should terrify us in comparison. Reading this book is like being woken up, like Neo in Matrix, you begin to realize that everyone is living in a weird parallel world where they fear the strangest things and only you seem to be able to spot it. Hopefully more people read this book so we can all snap out of it.