A climate of fear – and its outcome

Cool off on health scares by Glenn Swogger Jr. describes a problem.

The problem is a pervasive unease and anxiety that feeds upon itself and searches for danger, at which point reason, along with common sense and skepticism, tend to be tossed aside.

He cites five possible sources that include rapid social change, complex problems, and increased awareness.

Fear has its price. It exerts its negative effects through paralyzing our capacities for judgment and consideration of alternatives. … Another all too common side effect of fear – one that makes it difficult to discuss problems – is the impulse to regard others as potential foes.

The point is illustrated in the very first comment. That attempts to dismiss Dr. Swogger because he is a trustee of an organization that receives funding from the food industry. That is a taint by implication and not by fact. It is an illustration of fear creating dishonesty. Rather than address the points at issue, attack the messenger.

It seems that many want to believe in fears to such an extent that they create them. Often this creation is based on a kernel of truth exaggerated to such an extent the kernel gets lost. Sometimes the creation is out of whole cloth.

The fact is that suspicion often supersedes a proper skepticism. When that happens, the search for truth becomes a search for comfort and that often does not lead to good outcomes.

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