Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Round Table

Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 24 March 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c1597
  1. Keith Taylor, general practitioner, Bute Medical School, St Andrews, Fife
  1. kct1{at}

    When you suggest that there is a big or a small risk of an event occurring, how often do you really explain what you mean? More fundamentally, how often do you know what you mean? As the journalist Dan Gardner points out in his incisive book, the “gut” and the “head”’ can estimate risk in different ways.

    In his deconstruction of several recent scare stories Gardner outlines some of the major drivers of the response of individuals and society to risk. One is the very human tendency to form a narrative from sequential events no matter how tenuous the connection. Studies of emotive and memorable cases such as a …

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