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The Science of Fear: Book summary and reviews of The Science of Fear by Daniel Gardner

The Science of Fear

Why We Fear the Things We Shouldn't--and Put Ourselves in Greater Danger

by Daniel Gardner

The Science of Fear by Daniel Gardner X
The Science of Fear by Daniel Gardner
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Book Summary

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.

In this fascinating, lucid, and thoroughly entertaining examination of how humans process risk, journalist Dan Gardner had the exclusive cooperation of Paul Slovic, the world renowned risk-science pioneer, as he reveals how our hunter gatherer brains struggle to make sense of a world utterly unlike the one that made them. Filled with illuminating real world examples, interviews with experts, and fast-paced, lean storytelling, The Science of Fear shows why it is truer than ever that the worst thing we have to fear is fear itself.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Gardner's vivid, direct style, backed up by clear examples and solid data from science and psychology, brings a breath of fresh air and common sense to an emotional topic." - Publishers Weekly.

"Starred Review. Readers may squirm to learn the sheer silliness of so many of their fears. They will squirm again to realize that, despite this knowledge, those fears will persist." - Kirkus Reviews.

"Where writers such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Francis Wheen have been content largely to enumerate the errors of less rational men and women, Dan Gardner has collated part of what we need to diagnose the problem. If skeptics spent less time moaning about the propensity of their fellows to believe what they want to believe and more time asking why they do so, there might not be such a crisis of reason in the West today." - The Independent.

"Terrific. Exceptionally good… Has the clarity of Malcolm Gladwell." - Evening Standard.

"Excellent…. analyses everything from the media’s predilection for irrational scare stories to the cynical use of fear by politicians pushing a particular agenda…. Gardner never falls into the trap of becoming frustrated and embittered by the waste and needless worry that he is documenting. A personal anecdote about an unwise foray into a Nigerian slum in search of a stolen wallet disposes of the idea that the author is immune to the foibles he describes. What could easily have been a catalogue of misgovernance and stupidity instead becomes a cheery corrective to modern paranoia." - The Economist.

"An invaluable resource for anyone who aspires to think clearly." - The Guardian.

"Elegantly summarises the results of psychological research … Gardner is forensic in his dissection of bogus claims in advertising and politics, just as he is lucid about the science explaining why they work." - The Observer.

"A fascinating insight into the peculiar and devastating nature of human feat." - The Telegraph.

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Author Information

Daniel Gardner

Daniel Gardner trained in law (Osgoode Hall Law School, Class of '92) and history (M.A., York University, '95). Dan first worked as a political staffer to the Premier of Ontario. In 1997, he joined the Ottawa Citizen, where he is a columnist and senior writer. He has received numerous awards for his writing, including Amnesty International's Media Award and the Michener Award.

Follow Daniel at http://www.dangardner.ca/

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