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WWL: Why We Fear
Where We Live - with John Dankosky
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In this episode:

Why have we become a "culture of fear?"


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48:50 minutes (23.44 MB)
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Terrorists. Swine Flu. Climate change. Unemployment. It seems we may have more to fear than fear itself. But do we have any more to be afraid of than generations that have gone before us? Journalist Daniel Gardner says it's simply "arrogant" to think as such. We are living longer and better than humans in all of history--and yet, we're increasingly afraid. "This," says Gardner, "is one of the greatest paradoxes of our time."

So what explains this fearfulness? Does it make sense to be afraid to fly? Afraid of health care reform?

Coming up, Where We Live, Dan Gardner joins us to talk about his book The Science of Fear: How the Culture of Fear Manipulates Your Brain. We’re also joined by our friend and Hartford Courant columnist, Susan Campbell, author of the blog Fear Itself.

Join the conversation. What really freaks you out?  Leave your comments below.

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Facebook comment from Mary

If everyone would just worry about their actual flight a little bit more, all would be well....You see, this theory is that it is the things that you don't worry about which will bite you in the a**....so worrying actually serves a great purpose in the universe.....Think about it....it's never the things you worry about that ACTUALLY happen....If you consciously worry, you've got it all covered....I'm sure there's a flaw here somewhere....

Listener email from Ellen

I, and probably a lot of listeners who saw “Jaws” when they were 12, have an absolutely irrational fear of sharks. I go to the beach and only go in waist-deep in spite of the fact that I’m more likely to drown than encounter a shark! This fear is fed, of course, by things like “shark week,” which I don’t watch!

Listener email from Jac

Isn’t fear a tool used to effectively manipulate a person (or people)? Fear can be used to get a person or people to do what someone wants. You see this constantly:

-parents warn their kids that if they don’t do what they want, they’ll be punished

-individuals can be controlled thru use of fear

-the news states things like “Find out why your water may be killing you. Tune in at 6.”

-political parties use fear of the other party to gain support

Can we really do anything about this when there are people who want to control the public (or individual) and using fear is an effective way to do that?

Listener email from Jon

I am afraid of spiders, but I am also afraid of blood, but they are two different reactions. Spiders make me hyper-ventilate and almost itch, but blood makes me stop breathing until I almost pass out. Is one natural and one irrational? Are they both irrational? What could explain the difference in my body's different reactions?

Listener email from Mary

". . . afraid that very few people realize that local environmental degradation: water quality, air quality, fragmented ecological systems, and of course, global warming - is actually a serious problem. There are so many other personal lifestyle distractions. Moreover the "global" conditions seem more important than local conditions, yet the global is a reflection of magnitude of site specific problems. A lot could happen here if people would take environmental indicators seriously, and develop inventive, optimistic responses."

Facebook comments from Fred

The shameful use of the fear of the unknown is primarily used for the fight / resistance of US health care reform.

Would we be better if we were a nation of Spocks? Limiting our emotional responses and thinking things through?