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


  • 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


  • 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