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

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

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

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

Synopsis

America is a country gripped by fear. In this startling and widely acclaimed book, Barry Glassner exposes the people and organizations that manipulate our perceptions and profit from our anxieties. These peddlers of fear-politicians, advocacy groups, and TV newsmagazines, among others-cost Americans dearly, weighing us down with needless worries and wasting billions of dollars. Insightful and reassuring-and now with a thought-provoking discussion guide-The Culture of Fear diagnoses the predominant pathology of our age and provides a passionate rallying cry for a return to rationality.

Excerpt

Why are so many fears in the air, and so many of them unfounded? Why, as crime rates plunged throughout the 1990s, did two-thirds of Americans believe they were soaring? How did it come about that by mid-decade 62 percent of us described ourselves as "truly desperate" about crime--almost twice as many as in the late 1980s, when crime rates were higher? Why, on a survey in 1997, when the crime rate had already fallen for a half dozen consecutive years, did more than half of us disagree with the statement "This country is finally beginning to make some progress in solving the crime problem"?

In the late 1990s the number of drug users had decreased by half compared to a decade earlier; almost two-thirds of high school seniors had never used any illegal drugs, even marijuana. So why did a majority of adults rank drug abuse as the greatest danger to America's youth? Why did nine out of ten believe the drug problem is out of control, and only one in six believe the country was making progress?

Give us a happy ending and we write a new disaster story. In the late 1990s the unemployment rate was below 5 percent for the first time in a quarter century. People who had been pounding the pavement for years could finally get work. Yet pundits warned of imminent economic disaster. They predicted inflation would take off, just as they had a few years earlier--also erroneously--when the unemployment rate dipped below 6 percent.

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