Friday, February 23, 2007

On Fear

I just finished reading Barry Glassner's The Culture of Fear. Why Americans are Afraid of the Wrong Things: Crime, Drugs, Minorities, Teen Moms, Killer Kids, Mutant Microbes, Plane Crashes, Road Rage, & so much more. It's a good read, although being published in 1999 it is now sort of out of date. After all, fear has seen quite an upswing since 2001.

Basically he runs through all of those fears listed above and debunks them one by one. He makes pretty good arguments overall, and I tend to agree with him. I find him a bit patronizing, though. He quickly dismisses people's fears because the causes so often do not merit the reactions. But although the reasons for fear might often be irrational, the emotion is very real. A book which I think treated people's fears with more respect is False Alarm: The Truth About the Epidemic of Fear by Marc Siegel.

Ze Frank shows how trying to curing fear with facts can backfire.

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