The Science of Fear By Daniel Gardner is a good book to read to put fears in perspectives. The book is recommended by Tyler Cowen and Paul Slovic who pioneered many of the real life studies in risk assessment that are the foundation of behavioral economics anomalies. Gardner is a liberal who believes that the world is getting better and risks are overly emphasized. His heroes are FDR and JFK and he is an ardent anti Bush who believes that we shouldn't be worried about terrorism because other risks like life style and car driving are infinitely more terrifying. He makes the common point that we have two sides of our brain, the feeling side, and the rational side. The feeling side is based on rules of thumb and tends to make the wrong decisions because they were useful in the stone age, but are no longer helpful today when risks are transmitted by the media and cyberspace to gain readership and sell product. He gives many examples of why we shouldn't worry about vivid events that are recent in our memory and provides a nice summary of the scientific literature that goes way beyond the contrived stuff of Kahneman and Twersky et al that is very helpful for the present day. It is a book I recommend.


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