The one-sentence summary
There will always be someone who wishes to generate fear and panic, but they are usually biased, ill-informed or just plain wrong.
- It explains what is worth worrying about and what is not, based on the true statistics rather than media hype
- People in different countries fear different things (Danes about nuclear power, Italians about radiation from their mobile phones)
- Meanwhile, we all live longer and have better standards of living than ever
- All the scare stories, including overpopulation, murder rates, fish shortages, and obesity levels, are analysed and explained
- We carry in our heads a bucket of worry that we seem compelled to fill with whatever is available
- Many commercial interests add the spurious authority of a survey to support what they wish to say
- We have a new IPOD generation: Insecure, Pressured, Over-taxed, Debt-ridden
- A house buying multiple of 1 to 3 (average salary to house value) is “affordable”. In London, this is over 1 to 6
WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT IT
- You can see immediately the extraordinary extent to which statistics are manipulated and misrepresented by vested interests and the media
- There is a sceptic’s toolkit to help you work out whether something is valid or not: check for vested interest, weasel words, surveys and who conducted them, percentages rather than actual numbers, and many other tricks.
- “Mathematics is the quintessential way to make impressive-sounding claims which are devoid of factual content.” John Allen Paulos
- The cult of innumeracy means that most people can’t tell what the truth is
- You can look up any subject and get the correct facts, coupled with the sort of nonsense that much of the media build around the subject
WHAT YOU HAVE TO WATCH
- Not much. It is well-written.
- The sections allow you to get any subject you want, but there is no sequence as such, so dipping would make it a lighter read