Stare Into Space

A Nice Cup Of Tea And A Book: Risk

Posted on | February 23, 2010 | 6 Comments

I haven’t done one of these for a couple of weeks so I thought I’d make it extra special. This is not just A Nice Cup Of Tea And A Book, this is A Nice Cup Of Tea And A Lovely Scone With Some Jam And a Book

The scone: Fruit.  The jam: Strawberry.

The book: Risk: The Science and Politics Of Fear by Dan Gardner.

I spotted Dan Gardner on Charlie Brooker’s Newswipe a few weeks ago.  He said sensible things and then his book was mentioned.  Impressionable type that I am, I rushed to the internet to order up a copy.

Risk’s raison d’être is that, as a species, Homo sapiens has much, much less to worry about now than at any stage in its past but most of us go around anxious and stressed about stuff that has a minuscule chance of occurring.

Our brains couldn’t keep pace with our species’ development and, although we’re flying about in jets and curing disease, our brains are still somewhere around the early, hunter-gatherer stages of our evolution.  However, instead of a useful ‘there’s a lion in that bush’ brainwave, now that we have very few lions to dodge, we’re getting ‘there’s a paedophile in that bush’ brainwave.

I’m oversimplifying massively of course but the jist is the same.  Although the clever ‘head’ part of our brains can work out the statistics of there actually being a paedophile in the bush, more often that not, the ‘gut’ part of our brains goes on what it ‘knows’ – and it reads the Daily Mail. Risk looks at how and why this behaviour happens and – maybe more interestingly – looks at how that behaviour can be, and is, exploited.

Risk is well written and entertaining throughout.  At times it strays towards feeling a tiny-bit academic but it really is only a little and it’s worth it for the wealth of information you’re getting.  I really recommend everyone read it.  I’d go so far as to say it’s required reading.

And, if you don’t read it, a paedophile will move into your bushes.  Go and make it so, gullible ones.

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Gerry Hayes

Gerry Hayes

I mostly sit around all day and drink tea. Occasionally, I write stuff and send it to strangers so they can humiliate me and deride my efforts. Other than the self-harm to dull the shame of failure, it's not a bad life. Like I say, there's tea.

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