Angry Rhetoric is a Response to Uncertainty and Fear

The Arizona shootings focused attention on angry rhetoric, but not its cause. We're worried, uncertain, and turning angry and tribal to establish a feeling of control and safety.

The Year of Fear, in Review

A look at the psychology of our perception of risk, through some of the high profile (and not so high profile) risks we encountered in 2010.

Fear Makes Us Tribal, and Stupid. Case in Point, Rush Limbaugh

When we are worried, as many of us are these days, we are more likely to conform our thinking and behavior to fit in with the group. Which means that, in worrying times, divisions between groups grow sharper, and the likelihood of compromise to solve the big problems we all face, gets further away.

The TSA, Whole Body Scans, and Risk Perception.

Resistance is growing to an airport security technology that could keep us safe. Why does having our privacy invaded feel worse to some than the possibility we might get blown up?

What the Recent Elections Were Really About; Worry and Uncertainty

The recent American elections show how strongly people feel. But they're not angry. They're worried, and uncertain, and the response to that is always to seek some sense of control. The politicians and policies of the moment take the blame, but rejecting them is about something much deeper.

It’s Irrational to Say that People Who Get Risk Wrong are Irrational.

Calling people whose fears don't match the facts 'irrational' ignores mountains of evidence that risk perception is not, and can never be, a purely fact-based rational process. Affective risk perception, a mix of facts and how those facts feel, CAN lead to dangerous jugments. Getting risk wrong can be risky. But calling people who make such judgments "irrational' is a lousy way to get them to think about things more carefully

Why Changing Somebody’s Mind, or Yours, Is Hard to Do

Our opinions are castle walls, built to keep us safe.

Vampires Get All the Blood They Need. We Don’t, Because of Our Fears

Sometimes worrying too much, or too little, can be a risk in and of itself. Case in point; disqualifications to who can donate blood, which reduce the supply and riase the risk of infectious contamination

It’s Not Just About Oil In the Ocean. It’s How it Got There.

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a great example of how human-made risks evoke more fear and concern than natural ones.

Survival and Sex. Which One Wins When Those Two Drives Conflict?

(Hint;: It’s hard to make babies tomorrow if you don’t survive today.)

Cell Phones and Brain Tumors. Good News and Bad News. And It’s The Same News!

Good news re: risk isn't good if it conflicts with what we already believe.

Sticks and Stones, and Words, CAN hurt you!

How loaded words can be dangerous

Why It Can Be The Safest of Times, and the Scariest of Times, at the Same Time

 The psychology of risk perception insures that the safest times can also feel like the scariest times. Understanding why can help us make healthier choices.