The Science of Fear: Why We Fear the Things We Shouldn’t—and Put Ourselves in Greater Danger

Daniel Gardner, Author . Dutton $24.95 (339p) ISBN 978-0-525-95062-2

Gardner, a columnist and senior writer for the Ottawa Citizen , is both matter-of-fact and entertaining in this look at fear and how it shapes our lives. Although we are capable of reason, says Gardner, we often rely instead on intuitive snap judgments. We also assume instinctively, but incorrectly, that “[i]f examples of something can be recalled easily, that thing must be common.” And what is more memorable than headlines and news programs blaring horrible crimes and diseases, plane crashes and terrorist attacks? In fact, such events are rare, but their media omnipresence activates a gut-level fear response that is out of proportion to the likelihood of our going through such an event. It doesn’t help that scientific data and statistics are often misunderstood and misused and that our risk assessment is influenced less by the facts than by how others respond. 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. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/21/2008
Release date: 08/01/2008
Paperback - 351 pages - 978-0-452-29546-9
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