Lemon #89. The fear instinct

Lemon #89. The
instinct

While Reading “Factfulness” from Hans Rosling we learned about the Fear Instinct and its implications. 

We tend to quickly generate a worst-case scenario. We tend not to see what we want to see but what we are afraid of seeing. 

Critical thinking is complicated, but it’s almost impossible when we are scared. Besides, we tend up paying more attention to the information that confirms our fear, not the one that says the opposite, and media cannot resist tapping into our fear instinct. 

As an example, in the US, the risk of getting killed by a drunk person is 50x higher than getting killed by a terrorist. 

Fear can be useful, but only if it is directed at the right things. The fear instinct is a terrible guide for understanding the world. It makes us give our attention (which is limited) to the unlikely dangers and neglect what it is riskier. For example, compare Covid-19 reactions versus sustainability.

To control the Fear Instinct: 

  • Fear vs Reality: The world seems scarier than it is because what you hear about is has been previously selected. 
  • Risk = Danger x Exposure
  • Get calm before you carry on. When you are afraid, you see the world differently. Make as few decisions as possible until the panic has been subsided and rationalized. 

Factfulness is recognizing when frightening things get our attention and remembering that these are not necessarily the riskiest. Calculate the risks. 

Hans Rosling @ Factfulness.

Josep Guitart

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