The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things

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9781572703544: The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things
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A noted sociologist examines why Americans are subject to misplaced fears, discussing the people and organizations who manipulate common perceptions and raise anxieties for their own benefit.

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Review:

Americans are afraid of many things that shouldn't frighten them, writes Barry Glassner in this book devoted to exploding conventional wisdom. Thanks to opportunistic politicians, single-minded advocacy groups, and unscrupulous TV "newsmagazines," people must unlearn their many misperceptions about the world around them. The youth homicide rate, for instance, has dropped by as much as 30 percent in recent years, says Glassner--and up to three times as many people are struck dead by lightening than die by violence in schools. "False and overdrawn fears only cause hardship," he writes. In fact, one study shows that daughters of women with breast cancer are actually less likely to conduct self-examinations--probably because the campaign to increase awareness of the ailment also inadvertently heightens fears.

Although some sections are stronger than others, The Culture of Fear's examination of many nonproblems--such as "road rage," "Internet addiction," and airline safety--is very good. Glassner also has a sharp eye for what causes unnecessary goose bumps: "The use of poignant anecdotes in place of scientific evidence, the christening of isolated incidents as trends, depictions of entire categories of people as innately dangerous," and unknown scholars who masquerade as "experts." Although Glassner rejects the notion that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, he certainly shows we have much less to fear than we think. And isn't that sort of scary? --John J. Miller

About the Author:

Barry Glassner is Professor of Sociology at the University of Southern California. He is the author of seven books, including Career Crash and Bodies. His writing has appeared in magazines and newspapers including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune. He has been interviewed on ABC, CBS, CNN, NPR and on numerous syndicated local programs.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780465014903: The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things

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ISBN 10:  0465014909 ISBN 13:  9780465014903
Publisher: Basic Books, 2000
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9780465014897: The Culture Of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid Of The Wrong Things

Basic ..., 1999
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9781541673489: The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things

Basic ..., 2018
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9780465027491: The Culture Of Fear - Why Americans Are Afraid Of The Wrong Things - Crime, Drugs, Minorities, Teen Moms...

Basic ..., 2003
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