Monday, October 09, 2006

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

by Barry Glassner
Many of us may watch more TV news than we care to admit, especially in the last two years. There's a sense of needing to "keep up" with world events. Glassner's book was written in the late nineties, but it applies just as well today. His premise is that Americans are fed a constant media diet of terrifying "news items" that are often inaccurate, vague, or just plain wrong. There's no time for corrections, though, because the next terrifying story is already headed your way. Killer bees! Flesh-eating virus! Teen pregnancy! Internet predators! These hyped-up scare stories take attention away from actual problems that desperately need our attention, such as overpopulation, destruction of the environment, a failing educational system, and underavailability of health care. The book is both reassuring and upsetting: a thoughtful reminder to focus our energies.

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