17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Don't Be Scared,
This review is from: Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear (Hardcover)A really interesting and thought provoking read by the prize winning journalist. On page after page one realises quite how ridiculous some of our fears are. There is no factual basis to the idea that these are uniquely dangerous times. In fact, the evidence points to the opposite.
I remember a while back reading a comment in The Guardian newspaper after a child abduction story broke. The comment contained a fact I often like to repeat to people: In 20 years, the rate of child murder by strangers has remained pretty much the same level. And yet, in the same period, the fear has been ratcheted up to a remarkable degree. Adults are scared to let children play out on their own, even though they possibly went out and played in a time when they were even more at risk. I mean really, when you think about it, how many major child abduction cases do you hear in a year? 1? 2? Not many I suspect. And yet the media creates a vision of a country in which children are abducted on a regular basis.
Gardner comes up with many examples of the exaggeration of risk and the threats that are posed. Take, for example, the 'threat' of Islamic terrorism. There have been many examples of alleged terrorist activity by white, non-Muslims, and yet they have not been reported. Why? Because they do not fit the current narrative. If they were Islamic, every single one would be headline news. They aren't, so it's not.
Another example is the case of children being kidnapped in America. According to the statistics, of the 797,500 children under the age of 18 that go missing every year, only 115 are due to child kidnapping. 115! That means, as Gardener points out, that a child under 18 in America has a 0.00016% chance of being kidnapped. A figure that, according to the insurance industry, is so low it is zero.
One other example to mull over....Despite the rhetoric regarding terrorism, terrorist attacks have actually been declining ever since the end of the Cold War. According to one body that tracks international terrorism, if you take out the Middle East and South Asia, terrorism has continued to decline since 1991. The threat to us in the West has actually declined, despite the attacks of September 11th.
Although I don't agree with everything in the book, Gardner makes a very convincing case. I would seriously recommend this to anyone interested in how governments and corporations play (and profit) on our fears to an alarming degree. A fascinating read. Just remember: there is nothing to fear but fear itself.