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#NF《BRAN-NEW ! +Toolkit To Assess And Sort Out What's Worth Worrying About & What's Not In The 21st Century》Simon Briscoe & Hugh Aldersey-William - PANICOLOGY : What's There to Be Afraid Of?

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5 months ago by trustexplatform

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In the spirit of FREAKONOMICS and THE TIPPING POINT, here is a smart, "pop" guide for determining the real level of danger behind many media-hyped threats. Are you afraid you might succumb to bird flu? Worried that a life of poverty awaits you in old age? Concerned that you might not be having as much sex as the French? Anxious that our planet is under threat from climate change or a collision with an asteroid? If any, or all, of these things worry you, you're not alone. Anxiety is a part of modern life. But why? We're living longer, safer, and healthier lives than at any time in human history. So what is there to worry about?  In this witty and revealing book, Simon Briscoe and Hugh Aldersey-Williams strip away the hysteria that surrounds over forty of today's most common scare stories, from overpopulation and murder rates to fish shortages and obesity levels. And show the extraordinary extent to which statistics are manipulated or misrepresented by vested interests and the media, eager to exploit our fears. And most importantly they offer a toolkit for skepticism—ways of helping readers sort out what really is worth panicking about from the stuff that really isn't. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Review From Publishers Weekly : Briscoe, the statistics editor at The Financial Times, and science writer Aldersey-Williams join forces for a wide-ranging appeal to "worry less" in about public health, social policy, terrorists, declining resources and other sources of media-generated hysteria (except for earthquakes and cars, which we could stand to worry about more). While these British reporters turn up a few surprises (some demographers now worrying about "negative momentum," when "a shrinking population goes into an every-steeper spiral of decline") and some cheeky bits (the Continent prefers the bidet while Anglo Saxons don't, "the French buy less soap"), many of their themes are well-worn: the "obesity plague," flu scares, environmentalism gone awry, and health scares implicating power lines, cellular phones and genetically engineered foods. Despite some familiarity, Briscoe and Aldersey-Williams demystify a huge list of tricky subject matter with precision and humor. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Review By Financial Times FT : by Stephanie Flanders The premise of Panicology is an excellent idea for a book. The dust-jacket promises it will “strip away the hysteria which surrounds over 40 of today’s most common scare stories”. And it’s “witty and revealing” to boot. The problem is, it doesn’t and it isn’t. Simon Briscoe, an FT journalist, and Hugh Aldersey-Williams are clearly numerate. They are comfortable with statistics and range confidently from one set to another. The book provides a decent summary of the state of debate on a wide range of modern angsts – from bird flu to the decline of cinema. But if you actually want “two statisticians [to] explain what’s worth worrying about and what’s not in the 21st century”, this isn’t the book to put your mind at ease. There’s a curious reluctance to probe what lies beneath – and an even more curious tendency to conclude each chapter endorsing something very close to the conventional wisdom. If you’re looking for reasons not to worry about things such as MRSA, the demographic time bomb or rising obesity, you’ll find surprisingly few. To take just one example, in a section on family breakdown, Briscoe and Aldersey-Williams refer to a widely publicised Unicef report on the well-being of children and young people, in which Britain came last in a ranking of 21 countries. This was a disturbing survey but, as a few pointed out at the time, the report’s methodology was open to question. Poverty, for example, was measured relative to the national median income – by which standard the UK was found to have the second highest rate of child poverty in the survey. That’s troubling. But it’s a mark of inequality more than poverty. Median income in Hungary, which fared much better, is roughly a third of that in the UK. Given the subject of the book, I expected the authors to bring up some of these points. But they simply quote the Unicef report in a gloomy manner and move on. The main conclusion drawn is that “societies, individuals and policy makers are finding it hard to come to terms with the consequences of a rapidly changing definition of ‘family’.” That is fine as far it goes, but hardly an incisive knock to popular fears. It’s the same story through much of the book: statistics are quoted uncritically with little effort to get to the bottom of them. When they do undertake original research, to debunk the Daily Mail – in the chapter on the MMR vaccine – that research takes the form of a cursory Google search where they only read the results that are “freely accessible”. Maybe I ask too much, but for the purposes of a statistical expose I would expect the authors to dig a little deeper. About the author: Simon Briscoe holds a degree is social sciences and has worked in the civil service, investment banking, and has been the statistics editor at The Financial Times in the UK since 1999. He lives in London. Hugh Aldersey-Williams is an author and journalist from the United Kingdom. Aldersey-Williams was educated at Highgate School and studied the natural sciences at the University of Cambridge. he is known for his bestselling book, Periodic Tales: A Cultural History of the Elements, from Arsenic to Zinc, which explains all the elements found in the periodic table and their origins. He has also written The Most Beautiful Molecule and Anatomies: A Cultural History of the Human Body.

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