How Risky Is It, Really?: Why Our Fears Don't Always Match the Facts Hardcover – Mar 1 2010
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About the Author
David Ropeik is an international consultant and widely sought-after public speaker on risk perception and risk communication. Ropeik is an instructor at the Harvard University Extension School's Environmental Management Program and taught risk perception and risk communication at Harvard School of Public Heath (2000-2006). He was a commentator on risk for NPR Morning Edition program and has been a guest host for NPR's “The Connection.” He has written articles about risk perception for The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, LA Times, and The Boston Globe, and Nova among others.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I read much of this same material in Daniel Gardner's book The Science of Fear. The difference between the two books is that How Risky is It, Really is designed to be a personal guide for evaluating decisions. For that it is very effective, but by its later chapters the material has gotten repetitive. The Science of Fear is not as easily used as a daily guide but its scope is broader and deeper and it concerns itself more with implications for the future and for society as a whole.
The book points out how the "perception gap" can be harmful: individuals continue risky behavior unaware, while over-worrying about the
wrong things; public policy is shaped by self-interested or ideological pressure groups, or by public opinion driven by scaremongering media.
There are suggestions for you as an individual on how to identify and counteract these psychological risk factors. The book concludes with a
discussion of the public policy aspect of risk communication. It is hopeless to try to impose some purely rational cost-benefit analysis on
the public, rather one should start by taking these predictable psychological factors into account.
All these points are discussed via entertaining real examples. So the book deserves 5 stars for significant interesting content not readily
found elsewhere. My only quibble is that the people who will read this book are probably those predisposed to rational analysis, not the ones who might benefit most.
The first few chapters had some really exceptional material on risk & neurobiology that I enjoyed quite a lot, which is why I don't give this 1 star. Overall, the content of this book that was interesting to me could have been presented in a work maybe 1/5 of the length.
Interesting stuff on neurobiology in first & second chapter
Provided good definitions for terms to help discuss topic
Often repetitive & overly wordy. Could have used some significant editing
Good portion of the book simply controversial examples & author's opinion on what's right/wrong.
Occasional typos scattered throughout (found 3, and I'm no student of grammar)
David Ropeik's new book draws on psychology, neuroscience and very specific, real-world examples to help us build good, strong filters. It is easy to read, thorough and engaging. HOW RISKY IS IT, REALLY? should be on the desk of anyone who invests money, raises children, watches TV news--or aspires to find peace and sanity in a confusing world.
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