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The Science of Fear Audiobook

The Science of Fear: Why We Fear the Things We Should Not - and Put Ourselves in Great Danger

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Publisher's Summary

From terror attacks to the War on Terror, bursting real-estate bubbles to crystal meth epidemics, sexual predators to poisonous toys from China, our list of fears seems to be exploding. And yet, we are the safest and healthiest humans in history. Irrational fear is running amok, and often with tragic results. In the months after 9/11, when people decided to drive instead of fly - believing they were avoiding risk - road deaths rose by 1,595. Those lives were lost to fear.

The Science of Fear is a disarmingly cheerful roundtrip shuttle to the new brain science, dissecting the fears that misguide and manipulate us every day. As award-winning journalist Daniel Gardner demonstrates, irrational fear springs from how humans miscalculate risks. Our hunter-gatherer brains evolved during the old Stone Age and struggle to make sense of a world utterly unlike the one that made them. Numbers, for instance, confuse us. Our "gut" tells us that even if there aren't "50,000 predators...on the Internet prowling for children," as a recent U.S. Attorney General claimed, then there must be an awful lot. And even if our "head" discovers that the number is baseless and no one actually knows the truth - there could be 100,000 or 500,000 - we are still more fearful simply because we heard the big number. And it is not only politicians and the media that traffic in fearmongering. Corporations fatten their bottom lines with fear. Interest groups expand their influence with fear. Officials boost their budgets with fear. With more information, warnings and scary stories coming at us every day from every direction, we are more prone than ever to needlessly worry.

©2008 Daniel Gardner; (P)2009 Gildan Media Corp

What the Critics Say

"Excellent.... analyses everything from the media's predilection for irrational scare stories to the cynical use of fear by politicians pushing a particular agenda....What could easily have been a catalogue of misgovernance and stupidity instead becomes a cheery corrective to modern paranoia." (The Economist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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Performance
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  •  
    Lemart 02-17-12
    Lemart 02-17-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Great Rational Read!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    A very interesting look at the world in which we live.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    It really brought home a lot of the things I've thought about for years regarding fear marketing and the politics of fear. It doesn't matter which side of the political spectrum you lean towards. Very informative.


    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mettaphorica Australia 03-12-13
    Mettaphorica Australia 03-12-13 Member Since 2015
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    "Lots of Factoids"

    I purchased this because of all the great reviews. I found the delivery dry and dull, as if reading a list from the Guiness Book of Records or an Encyclopedia a lot of factoids collected from various schools of thought. Wasn't cohesive enough for me, so I stopped half way. I will try and listen to it again and if I change my mind, will amend review.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean BELVEDERE TIBURON, CA, United States 03-04-11
    Sean BELVEDERE TIBURON, CA, United States 03-04-11 Member Since 2014
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    "Excellent synthesis and analysis"

    I actually listened to this book twice because I found it so insightful and interesting. The author brings together several diverse fields in an understandable and persuasive way. He debunks several common fears and helps put others in their proper perspective.

    There are many books on the market that deal with error, cognitive bias and heuristics. This book presents enough information to make the concepts understandable and relevant without getting overly academic. He then provides concrete, real world examples of how they influence behavior and perceptions.

    The author tackles cancer, terrorism, pollution, pedophiles and violent crime. He gives a very realistic analysis of popular perceptions of these risks. Then he dissects them in terms of the actual risk they pose to the average person (much less than perceived) and convincingly shows where the discrepancies arise.

    He covers psychology, evolutionary biology, heuristics, history, politics and statistics but somehow keeps the material from getting dry or overly technical. It's a delicate balance and he manages to keep up the balancing act for the entire book.

    The book is an excellent antidote to the alarmist "is your family safe?!" stories that the press currently engages in.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Craig C. austin, TX United States 01-30-11
    Craig C. austin, TX United States 01-30-11 Member Since 2007
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    "Don't be afraid"

    Gardner uses many studies that show that people make decisions with their gut and rarely do we make them based on evidence and critical thinking. We need to become more aware of how and why we fear so much.
    We live in the safest of times in human history, but we are more afraid than ever. It does not make sense, but it seems to be the case. Why can't we do an objective analysis is a major issue for those listening.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike Bonnet BayAustralia 01-13-10
    Mike Bonnet BayAustralia 01-13-10
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    "Enlightening"

    A good audiobook. Good clear narration with a style well suited to audio. Full of interesting examples to support the thesis.
    It gave me new insights into how people (myself included) react to and sometimes fail to recognise risk.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Greg E Helfrich 08-30-09 Member Since 2006
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    "Excellent!"

    I have always beleived in the mantra "be careful of what you fear" as I have seen so many people go to great lengths to avoid products, situations or events that they feared - irrationally.

    The author lays out the logic that I have tried to express in a simple, easy to understand manner.

    Great listen!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deep Reader 04-30-10
    Deep Reader 04-30-10
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    "Feel the Fear But Do It Anyway"

    If you're looking for a biological exploration of the mechanics of fear, then this isn't the book you're looking for.

    Instead, this book looks at the social and psychological causes and effects of fear, and how to get over the negative impacts of fear.

    Not the best book around, but definitely insightful.

    10 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Telfair Shepherdstown, WV, United States 06-24-12
    C. Telfair Shepherdstown, WV, United States 06-24-12
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    "Scares You To Death!"

    There's little in this book that most of us do not already know -- in our heads. But that's the point. Human beings are much more likely to react to what's in our gut. So we need this reminder badly and more often than we get it!

    Everyone should read or hear this book. Parents, senior citizens, voters, TV watchers, drivers, flyers -- the list goes on and on. We need to be reminded that perspective is needed in determining risk factors in our lives. And we need to be reminded that many people and organizations profit greatly from exploiting our tendencies to fear.

    Whether it's for monetary gain (hello, pharmaceuticals!), power retention (politicians, police chiefs), or ratings (TV movies, newscasts) motives, fear is the go-to message with which we all are constantly bombarded. Be afraid, be very afraid!

    Horrible as any possibility is, statistics prove that the vast majority of us will not be murdered; our children will not be abducted by strangers; occasional insomnia will not lead to social banishment and death. The true dangers may be in self-induced stress, in keeping children inside and overly-protective, in taking too much medication.

    Sure, the book's content is repetitive, but so is the constant drumming of fear we get elsewhere every day. A little repetition is justified in getting out this message of perspective. "The Science of Fear" could change for the better the way we think, the way we consume, and the way we vote.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
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    effy 02-11-17
    effy 02-11-17
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    "Very educational"

    I found this book really enlightening to some areas where I had ignorance in. I have the hard copy and the audible version. The information is so dense visually, I found the audible much easier to listen to and learn from. I highly suggest this book to everyone.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    KellysHero718 09-26-16
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    "Required Reading"

    Every citizen should read this book and keep it handy while consuming news from any source. Every parent should read it and then apologize to their children. This book should be required reading for every student and every instructor. Above all, perhaps, it should be required reading before being allowed to post on Facebook.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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