Be Very Afraid: The Cultural Response to Terror, Pandemics, Environmental Devastation, Nuclear Annihilation, and Other Threats

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Oxford University Press, Apr 7, 2010 - Religion - 304 pages
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In Be Very Afraid, Robert Wuthnow examines the human response to existential threats--once a matter for theology, but now looming before us in multiple forms. Nuclear weapons, pandemics, global warming: each threatens to destroy the planet, or at least to annihilate our species. Freud, he notes, famously taught that the standard psychological response to an overwhelming danger is denial. In fact, Wuthnow writes, the opposite is true: we seek ways of positively meeting the threat, of doing something--anything--even if it's wasteful and time-consuming. It would be one thing if our responses were merely pointless, he observes, but they can actually be harmful. Both the public and policymakers tend to model reactions to grave threats on how we met previous ones. Offering insight into our responses to everything from An Inconvenient Truth to the bird and swine flu epidemics, Wuthnow provides a profound new understanding of the human reaction to existential vulnerability.

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I haven't read the whole book but what I have read was very insightful!


Perilous Times
The NuclearHaunted
What to Mobilize Against
Waging War on Terror
Weapons of Mass Destruction
Panics and Pandemics
Environmental Catastrophe
Setting a New Agenda
The Call for Action
Selected Bibliography

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About the author (2010)

Robert Wuthnow is the Gerhard R. Andlinger '52 Professor of Sociology at Princeton University.

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