Fear = Epic Fail

The disruption sweeping across the content industries tends to whip the fear up in media folks. Newspapers are dead! Newfangled gadgets are killing predecessors! Free is locked in bloody conflict with pay! “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together…

The Science of Fear, by Daniel Gardner The disruption sweeping across the content industries tends to whip the fear up in media folks. Newspapers are dead! Newfangled gadgets are killing predecessors! Free is locked in bloody conflict with pay! “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together … mass hysteria!

It’s all a bit much.

That’s why I find the reasoned perspective in Daniel Gardner’s excellent book “The Science of Fear” so refreshing. For example, the following excerpt objectively traces the genesis of fear in just a few dead-simple sentences. Entire fields of rigorous academic inquiry have failed to define fear’s pathways so aptly:

But how do people choose which risks to worry about and which to ignore? Our friends, neighbors, and coworkers constantly supply us with judgments that are a major influence. The media provide us with the examples — or not — that Gut feeds into the Example Rule to estimate the likelihood of a bad thing happening. Experience and culture color hazards with emotions that Gut runs through the Good-Bad Rule. The mechanism known as habituation causes us to play down the risks of familiar things and play up the novel and unknown. If we connect with others who share our views about risks, group polarization can be expected — causing our views to become more entrenched and extreme.

Seems easy, doesn’t it? If we acknowledge bias and our own reactionary triggers, we can elevate analysis above the muck of fear. No more killing gadgets or dying industries. With a little reflection, we can view the issues at play within the context of what’s actually happening.