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Barry Glassner Narrative Techniques of Fear Mongering - Penelope ...

Barry Glassner Narrative Techniques of Fear Mongering - Penelope ...

Barry Glassner Narrative Techniques of Fear Mongering - Penelope

Barry Glassner Narrative Techniques of Fear Mongering AMERICANS LIVE IN PERHAPS THE SAFEST TIME IN HUMAN HISTORY, SO how has it come about that there are so many fears and scares in the air, and so many of them are unfounded? Why, as crime rates plunged over the past decade, did substantial numbers ofAmericans say in surveys that they believe the crime rate is rising or remaining steady? Why, despite numerous studies showing that the number of drug users declined substantially during past two decades, did large numbers of Americans rank drug use as the greatest danger to America's youth? Why, at a time when most Americans are living longer and healthier, do many people feel they are at great risk of early death from obscure disorders? I suggest that the answer to these and related questions lies, in large measure, in the immense power and money that await individuals and organizations who can tap into Americans' moral insecurities for their own benefit. By fear mongering, politicians sell themselves to voters, TV and print newsmagazines sell themselves to viewers and readers, advocacy groups sell memberships, quacks sell treatments, lawyers sell class-action lawsuits, and corporations sell consumer products. A particularly illustrative current example of the last of these is the highly successful marketing of antibacterial soaps, which tend to be more expensive than conventional soaps, confer no greater protection in normal household settings, and may well contribute to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Much of the answer to why there are so many misbegotten fears in the air resides in how fear mongers sell their scares. In no small social research Vol 71: No 4: Winter 2004 819

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