The Culture of Fear ~ Barry Glassner

The Culture of Fear ~ Barry Glassner

 

We had better learn to doubt our inflated fears before they destroy us. Valid fears have their place; they cue us to danger.
False and over-drawn fears only cause hardships.

 

Panic driven public spending generates over the long term a pathology akin to one found in drug addicts.
The more money and attention we fritter away on our compulsions, the less we have available for our real needs, which consequently grow larger.

 

Television news programs survive on scares. On local newscasts, where producers live by the dictum, “if it bleeds, it leads,”
drug, crime, and disaster stories make up most of the news portion of the broadcasts.

 

To blame the media is to oversimplify the complex role that journalists play as both proponents and doubters of popular fears.

It is also to beg the same key issue that the millennium hypothesis evades: why particular anxieties take hold when they do?
Why do news organisations and their audiences find themselves drawn to one hazard rather than another?

 

Mary Douglas, the eminent anthropologist who devoted much of her career to studying how people interpret risk, pointed out that every
society has an almost infinite quantity of potential dangers from which to choose. Societies differ both in the types of dangers they select and the number.

Dangers get selected for special emphasis, Douglas showed, either because they offend the basic moral principles of the society or because they enable the criticism of disliked groups and institutions.

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