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Download The Science of Fear: Why We Fear the Things We Should not—and Put Ourselves in Great Danger Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Science of Fear: Why We Fear the Things We Should not—and Put Ourselves in Great Danger, by Daniel Gardner Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,229 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Daniel Gardner Narrator: Scott Peterson Publisher: Gildan Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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From terror attacks to the War on Terror, bursting real-estate bubbles to crystal meth epidemics, sexual predators to poisonous toys from China, our list of fears seems to be exploding. And yet, we are the safest and healthiest humans in history. Irrational fear is running amok, and often with tragic results. In the months after 9/11, when people decided to drive instead of fly—believing they were avoiding risk—road deaths rose by 1,595. Those lives were lost to fear.

The Science of Fear is a disarmingly cheerful roundtrip shuttle to the new brain science, dissecting the fears that misguide and manipulate us every day. As award-winning journalist Daniel Gardner demonstrates irrational fear springs from how humans miscalculate risks. Our hunter-gatherer brains evolved during the old Stone Age and struggle to make sense of a world utterly unlike the one that made them. Numbers, for instance, confuse us. Our "gut" tells us that even if there aren't "50,000 predators...on the Internet prowling for children," as a recent U.S. Attorney General claimed, then there must be an awful lot. And even if our "head" discovers that the number is baseless and no one actually knows the truth—there could be 100,000 or 500,000—we are still more fearful simply because we heard the big number. And it is not only politicians and the media that traffic in fearmongering. Corporations fatten their bottom lines with fear. Interest groups expand their influence with fear. Officials boost their budgets with fear. With more information, warnings and scary stories coming at us every day from every direction, we are more prone than ever to needlessly worry.

Real-world examples, interviews with experts, and fast-paced, lean storytelling make The Science of Fear an entertaining and enlightening tour. Ultimately, by revealing the psychology behind the many ways our “gut” reactions lead us astray and allow others to manipulate us, The Science of Fear will make you brave.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “An expert guide to how and why we make bad decisions.”

    Dr. Daniel J. Levitin, New York Times bestselling author of This Is Your Brain on Music

  • “Wonderfully provocative, an engagingly written study of the psychology of risk.”

    Tom Vanderbilt, New York Times bestselling author of Traffic

  • “An invaluable resource for anyone who aspires to think clearly.”

    Guardian (London)

  • “Excellent…Analyzes everything from the media’s predilection for irrational scare stories to the cynical use of fear by politicians pushing a particular agenda…Gardner never falls into the trap of becoming frustrated and embittered by the waste and needless worry that he is documenting. A personal anecdote about an unwise foray into a Nigerian slum in search of a stolen wallet disposes of the idea that the author is immune to the foibles he describes. What could easily have been a catalogue of misgovernance and stupidity instead becomes a cheery corrective to modern paranoia.”


  • “Both matter-of-fact and entertaining…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.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “[An] entertaining, often jolting account of why trivial risks terrify us, even as we engage in wildly dangerous activities with hardly a qualm…Using examples from everyday life and elucidating with ingenious psychological studies, the author explains why utterly irrational fears come naturally.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Sean | 2/18/2014

    " This is a very insightful book that equips its readers to question more of what they watch on T.V., read in the paper, and view on the Web. A key quote: "Politicians, corporations, activists, and non-governmental organizations want votes, sales, donations, support, and memberships, and they know that making people worry about injury, disease, and death is often the most effective way of obtaining their goals." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Jim | 2/16/2014

    " Scary that we are so easily manipulated! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Joe | 2/12/2014

    " Another voice of reason in an increasingly chaotic world, Gardner investigates why, at at time when humans are healthier and more secure than ever before, we're so terrified. Written in sober, clear language, this book may just help put things back into perspective. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by A. J. | 1/28/2014

    " Finally found time for personally reading and finished this great book. It is a mixture of Freakonomics and Denialism/Superstition in the age of reason. It is a story of our two brains (conscious and unconscious/"gut" and "head"). This is well written, informative and fun. The book is a great compliment to different but similar books such as Charles Pierce's "Idiot America" and Shankar Vedantam's "The Hidden Brain." A nice triology these three books are but Gardner's "The Science of Fear" is the best of the three. "

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