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The Science of Fear: Why We Fear the Things…

The Science of Fear: Why We Fear the Things We Shouldn't--and Put…

by Daniel Gardner

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This is quite a good book, what I gained most of all from reading it was the recalibration of what I should be fearful of and what I shouldn't be (What it says on the tin). ( )
  timleggett | Sep 21, 2014 |
An interesting conversation that was well researched, but it was not as readable as Freakonomics (a little heavy on the statistics, perhaps?); therefore, it took me a while to move through it. ( )
  SandSing7 | Aug 21, 2010 |
This is a good book, but needed tighter editing. Well written in general, but chapters were long and after a while tended to be repetitive and drag a bit. Good ideas though, and I'm glad I read it. ( )
  MarthaHuntley | Feb 7, 2010 |
Fresh description of how our unconscious rates fear and worry, and how little control our conscious and rational mind has over this. The first chapters describe how this fear setting is reached, and the later chapters cover how this results in a bad estimate of danger from various modern problems (cancer, terrorism, pornography, etc.). ( )
  ejmam | Oct 11, 2009 |
You MUST get this book! Get several copies and give them to family and friends! It will help you and them be less fearful and gain perspective as to what is truly risky and what is not, and why we humans usually make mistakes in judging risk.

As the internet and media increases information overload, it is increasingly apparent that what gets attention is fear - fear "sells". We are hardwired by evolution to pay attention to certain things and make unconscious decisions often mostly on the basis of fear; our brains use the faster "limbic processing" to help us quickly avoid dangers. Except that today's dangers are mostly not of the "lion-in-the-bushes" will eat me variety.

We usually have more time to let our cognitive skills override our unconscious decisions, but our cognitive processing is "lazy" so we don't. Furthermore, almost everyone trying to get our attention is using fear to capture it, because fear works.

What results is that we make all kinds of decisions on an exaggerated bias of fear that do NOT make logical sense, often at the literal life-and-dollar-saving expense of other truly more important things.
If we can practice making cost-benefit analysis more often we can come closer to overriding our biases, but even then we usually get tripped-up, again, simply because our brains our wired differently.

Those biases come in the following forms (credit to Bruce Schneier for the technical translations - Gardner uses the simpler phrases, and writes with an enjoyable style):
* Rule of Typical Things = representativeness heuristic
* Example Rule = availability heuristic
* Good-Bad Rule = affect heuristic
* confirmation bias = confirmation bias

By the way, Bruce Shneier provides a great review of this book, see:

The wonderful examples given in "The Science of Fear" will keep you entertained and you WILL learn something! ( )
  motjebben | Sep 13, 2009 |
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“Fear is implanted in us as a preservative from evil; but its duty, like that of the other passions, is not to overbear reason, but to assist it.”
—Samuel Johnson
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0525950621, Hardcover)

A timely and entertaining psychological look at why we're afraid and what to do about it

From terror attacks to bursting real estate bubbles, from crystal meth epidemics to online sexual predators and poisonous toys from China, our list of fears seems to be exploding. Yet we are the safest and healthiest humans in history. Why are we so worried?

The Science of Fear is an introduction to the new brain science of risk, dissecting the fears that misguide and manipulate us every day. Award-winning journalist Daniel Gardner demonstrates how irrational fear springs from the ways humans miscalculate risks based on our hunter-gatherer brains. With the exclusive cooperation of risk-science pioneer Paul Slovic and other leading experts, Gardner reveals how our "gut" reactions lead us astray. Understanding our irrational fears frees us from political and corporate manipulation, and makes our choices better, and our lives braver.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:16 -0400)

A fascinating insight into the peculiar and devastating nature of human fear, while training the reader to be ever wary of misleading media announcements.

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