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While reading Crichton's bibliography, I was struck by one entry in particular:
Furedi, Frank. Culture of Fear: Risk-taking and the Morality of Low Expectation. New York: Continuum, 2002. As Western societies become more affluent and safer, as life expectancy has steadily increased, one might expect the populations to become relaxed and secure. The opposite has happened: Western societies have become panic-stricken and hysterically risk averse. The pattern is evident in everything from environmental issues to the vastly increased supervision of children. This text by a British sociologist discusses why.
(In looking this up on Google, I came across a Wikipedia article of the same name.)
I have not yet read this book, but I intend to. While I cannot yet express an opinion of my own on the author's conclusions, this citation in turn reminded me of a lecture I attended in 1995, called "Building a 21st Century Mind", given by an anthropologist named Jennifer James.
To the best of my recollection and note-taking ability, she said:
I would not say this quote is 100% accurate in verbiage, but sufficiently accurate in spirit. However, it does get one thinking.
Being an American in a post-9/11 world perhaps predisposes me to seeing a tendency towards governance by FUD and the ubiquity of fear mongering as a strategy for social control. Where that ends and scientific inquiry into global climate change begins, I truly cannot say.