The Science of Fear by Dan Gardner

The Science of Fear

From terror attacks to the war on terror, real estate bubbles to the price of oil, sexual predators to poisoned food from China, our list of fears is ever-growing. And yet, we are the safest and healthiest humans in history. Irrational fear seems to be taking over, often with tragic results. For example, in the months after 9/11, when people decided to drive instead of fly—believing they were avoiding risk—road deaths rose by more than 1,500....

Details The Science of Fear

TitleThe Science of Fear
Release DateJul 17th, 2008
PublisherDutton Adult
GenrePsychology, Science, Politics, Sociology, Nonfiction

Reviews The Science of Fear

  • Stephanie *Very Stable Genius*
    This book was rather dry. With the title being fear I kind of expected it to be more dramatic. Not so much.In this book Mr. Gardner reveals to us that the stuff we are scared of, most of the time is really not what we should worry about. He points out how the news media will pick up a story and run with it because it is sensational. Fear sells. Then we will get all paranoid about it. I could have told you that.Pesticides for example, are not all ...
  • Caroline
    .Okay, I’ll own up. Deep down, and not so deep down, I’m the sort of gal who could walk up and down Oxford Street with a placard on my back saying “THE END OF THE WORLD IS NIGH”. My outlook is definitely pessimistic. This book on the other hand is the absolute opposite, arguing from beginning to end that we should be a whole stack less worried than we are. It therefore gave me a very bumpy ride. To say it was counter-intuitive was putting...
  • Atila Iamarino
    Um começo que dá uma mistura de Rápido e Devagar: Duas Formas de Pensar e A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age, falando sobre o viés que temos no que lembramos como mais importante ao ter medo e como estatísticas podem ser usadas para representar algo inofensivo como perigoso ou vice-versa.Gardner dá uma boa passada pelos maiores medos dos americanos, como câncer, violência e terrorismo, mostrando como esse medo...
  • Scott Rhee
    Daniel Gardner's "The Science of Fear" is an immensely readable and fascinating examination of the culture of fear that we live in and how it consistently makes us do stupid things. Gardner is fond of quoting FDR's famous quote, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" several times throughout the book, but he emphasizes that what FDR is referring to is not healthy fear (the kind that has helped our species to survive this long) but an "un...
  • Chris
    Imagine, for a moment, one of our early human ancestors. A first-generation Homo sapiens, exploring his world with an amazing brain that would be the envy of the animal kingdom. If they understood envy. He, and his children, and their children and grandchildren will spread across the Earth as hunter-gatherers, the first beings (so far as we know) who can look at the world and attempt to pass on what it knows and learns. Their threats were simple:...
  • David
    This is one of the few books that I've given 5 stars to this year and it deserves every one of them. Gardner's analysis of fear and the motivators of fear (both collective and individual) are brilliant and how these connect to ~ 1. Brain2. Media3. The many individuals and groups with an interest in stoking fear. His contention is that we are luckier than any generation that has ever lived, and he goes a long, long way to proving this, and yet we ...
  • Tanja Berg
    This is a good book, all-in all it was interesting and lucid although not all chapters had me sitting at the edge of my seat. Half-way through the book I was intent on giving it 3 stars, but the chapter on terrorism and the conclusion made me change my mind to 4. This book is about risk and fear. Or rather, it is about how fear makes us perceive risk. The one thing is miss is the lack of discussion of real and possibly imminent risk. Real risk is...
  • F.R.
    “So why is it that so many of the safest humans in history are scared of their own shadows?”That’s the question posed by this fantastic tract which looks at why modern man – despite having advantages which his ancestors could never dream of – is beset by so much fear. It explores how that fear is exploited and exaggerated by the media, governments and corporations – so that we are constantly told of new things to worry about, new dang...
  • Grant
    One of two books I recommend to anyone and everyone, but especially to young high school students and college students. Fear can make us adopt bad policies, waste money, and even do harm to very good people, companies or institutions. it's one of the best times in the world to be human, but you wouldn't know it from the press...and there's a reason for that. Read this to be the proper, skeptical and informed person you need to be and live in a de...
  • Sameer Alshenawi
    قبل قراءتي لهذا الكتاب، كنت احسب ان خوف الناس من أمور لا وجود لها واستهانتهم بمخاطر محدقة من حولهم يرجع برمته الى انتشار الجهل و العلوم الزائفة بين الناس. لم أكن اعرف ابدا ان الخوف و سوء تقدير المخاطر يرجع بجزء كبير منه لتطور الانسان و كيفية تشكيل ع...
  • Charlene
    Great use of statistics to show how we do not use rational thought to make decisions. While it is entertaining, his use of the phrase "my inner caveman" annoyed me.
  • Angel Contrera
    Very interesting, made me really think about the way we process information...
  • Dorota
    Ta książka powinna być lekturą obowiązkową na koniec edukacji podstawowej. Autor na licznych praktycznych i bardzo aktualnych przykładach omawia zjawisko powszechnej manipulacji informacjami, ukierunkowane na tworzenie kultury strachu. Książka uczy krytycznego myślenia i zwraca uwagę na pułapki, jakie zastawia na nas nasz własny umysł. Szczerze warta polecenia.
  • Jafar
    This is the sort of the book that is nice and easy to read – nothing that requires too much of thinking to comprehend – and yet so immensely useful and informative that I’d rate it as required reading for all of us. Everyone needs to read this book or something like it. It reminded me of Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling Upon Happiness. It contains the same kind of tidbits of information and insight that can be very useful in helping us get a be...
  • Eduardo
    This book has three main researchers at its heart: Paul Slovic, Amos Tversky, and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman. The three men have both done work on the two-system brain and it is this idea that Daniel Gardner uses to explain and link all the topics in this book. It is a fascinating explanation of how we think and make decisions. There is an excellent description (chapter 2 Of Two Minds) of why our brains still function as our ancient ances...
  • Jana Light
    In The Science of Fear, Dan Gardner explains the human experience of fear, first presenting accounts of how we consciously and unconsciously interpret information we receive, then showing how some current social and cultural circumstances bring out the worst in our reactionary interpretive tendencies. Overall, Gardner argues, we are far more afraid than reality warrants, for reasons both psychological and sociological. Even though the book is int...
  • Jerry Smith
    Gardner takes a look at the psychology of fear and why we are more fearful today than ever, even though we live in perhaps the safest time in all human history. Introduces reasons that are hard wired into us via evolution and therefore served us well previously, but tend to misinterpret things in the modern world, resulting in erroneous assumptions especially regarding risk.The central point concerns the two means by which we perceive risk and re...
  • Kirsty Darbyshire
    This book is all about putting a realistic twist on all the big risks everyone thinks the world holds - zillions of people terrified of terrorism and the like. The only problem for me is that I'm already a numerate sceptic who explains to others that the risk of, oh, their kids being abducted by paedophiles or similar, is vanishingly small and takes all use of statistics in news stories with a huge pinch of salt. So I wasn't sure how much I was g...
  • Blake Nelson
    This book starts out well - describing the psychology of how people evaluate risk, and how come we are often so bad at it. One great example from the September 11 attacks. If there had been a single attack of similar magnitude every month for a year, then a person's risk of dying in an attack would be 1 in 7,750. In one year, a person has a 1 in 6,498 chance of dying in a car accident. So our billions of dollars spent on anti-terrorism measures w...
  • Peter
    A very good book: it’s rational, well documented, and extremely readable. I’m not sure why, but I was expecting something more in the way of an inventory of risks — that is, a discussion of what dangers are more prominent than others. Instead, the book dwells a lot on psychology, particularly on the ways that Gut (immediate reactions tooled for survival on the ancient savannah) is at odds with Head (our rational selves, all the way up to th...
  • Sergey Antopolskiy
    Your media and politics skepticism 101.The book covers a wide range of material, which is mostly related to what kind of things we fear as a society and individually, how and why most of these fear are completely unjustified, and how politicians, media and the market create a self-reinforcing environment of fear, which allows them to get votes/views/sales.This book is very unsettling in its own way. Unsettling, because you realize that the media-...
  • Russell
    After years of trying to figure out why I think news reporting is bullshit, and advertising is bullshit, and politicians are full of bullshit, I finally have some reference material to actively back up my instincts. This book confirms something that I think we all sense, but don't have the context to express. Life should not be such a scary thing, but there are a whole lot of people with a whole lot of vested interest in convincing us otherwise.O...
  • Marco den Ouden
    How well do we assess risk? Not very well according to Dan Gardner in his fascinating book on the subject. He starts out with a story. The tragedy of 9/11 made a lot of people leery of flying. Yet, Gardner points out, flying remained and remains the safest way of traveling by far. How safe? Well, one statistician calculated that even if terrorists were hijacking and crashing one passenger jet a week in the United States, a person who flew once a ...
  • Sally McRogerson
    This was brilliant! We stress constantly; currently about swine flu, but that's only the most recent in a long list of many paranoias. This book actually quantifies risk in a way that puts everything into perspective. One part of the book focusses on 9/11. The world gave up flying and as a direct consequence about 1500 US citizens died in road accidents. This figure can be extrapolated from the data for years before and after and the empty plane ...
  • Tadas Talaikis
    OK not the first book I hear this, about traffic fatalities after 9/11. Decided to find it finally: Driving deaths and injuries post-9/11. However I look into this data, I don't see it. So, injuries increased, it may be any reason, we don't know. Here's my reality based hypothesis - people don't give a f*ck, you only hear several active screamers, who consist of too small portion of the distribution.And again, many references to original Thinking...
  • Tyler
    If I had to come up with one word to describe this book it would be 'insightful.' The author cites study after study that shows how humans in general allow their gut to control their decisions and thinking. I often found myself thinking "Well, that doesn't apply to me" or "That's not how I look at it," before I realized that I am pretty much the same as the subjects in these studies. While people don't see themselves as biased by their gut or fea...
  • John
    We are safer and healthier than ever, but yet we are just as (if not more) worried about disease, health, and death than ever. Why is this? Hint: influence and profits can be had by presenting messages that speak to us on a visceral level. This hardwiring in humans may have served us well 50,000 years ago, but if we allow ourselves to be influenced by those who know how to press this button in our minds in this age of mass communication, our huma...
  • HBalikov
    Some things that our brain doesn't evaluate correctly:CancerSmoking marijuanaEbolaTraveling by planeInsecticidesMad cow diseasePoliticsNuclear weaponsNuclear powerTerrorismWest Nile VirusWMDsClean waterThis book is well-intentioned and well-researched. Before I read the book, I knew that a lot of groups (political, product-marketing, health service related, etc.) were trying to motivate me by blasting me with "threat of the moment" scenarios in w...
  • Amie
    Maybe it's just my confirmation bias kicking in, but this book said what I've been saying for myself for years-- I have enough REAL stuff to worry about to be bothered by whether or not I'll get blown up flying across the ocean. Thank you, Dan Gardiner! Yes, there are things to worry about. No, we shouldn't ignore a risk just because it's a small chance. But we should be smarter about what we worry about enough to a) stop us doing what we want to...