There will be an article coming up in my next Friday Links post* that asks a great, great question: "This is the safest time in human history. Why is everyone so afraid all the time?"
It got me thinking about a few things. For one, I've asked this question myself quite often here at Casual Kitchen. I've also addressed how our fears are used against us in the context of food, health, consumerism and other domains.
It's worth thinking deeply about this question, and not just because it's a good one. It's one of those questions which, when asked, begins to answer itself. It's a paradox, so it makes us think a little bit more deeply about the nature of our fears: why they're there, why they're instantaneous and autonomic, and why we react to them without much logical thought.
In fact, I'd go so far as to argue that this question, if you merely think about it, literally lessens our fears. In a world where many institutions easily profit from our fears, lessening them is a laudable goal.
So with that in mind, I wanted to share five notable articles here at Casual Kitchen on the topic of fear. Let's spend some time lessening our fears together.
1) Yoga Mats, Subway, and the Azodicarbonamide Controversy: Chemical Phobia In the Media Age
I fisk The Food Babe for her ding-a-ling and dreadfully unscientific fearmongering. One intriguing takeaway I had as I reread this article on the so-called "Azodicarbonamide controversy" is how everyone's already forgotten all about it. It's slipped down the memory hole, and nobody even cares any more. This is an extraordinarily helpful clue about the validity of most media-manufactured fears. (See also: Toxic Beans?)
2) Organic Food, Chemicals, and Worrying About All the Wrong Things
How the aspirational product category of "organic foods" preys on our fears, offering us--at a price--the illusion of control and safety in a world that seems unsafe and out of control. Interesting how that works, isn't it?
3) A Cup of Morning Death? How "Big Coffee" Puts Profits Before People
Experts agree: coffee produces a wide range of terrible--at times even terrifying--side effects and symptoms. We simply must rein in Big Coffee! Quite a few readers read this article as straight and failed to see the satire. I guess that proves two things: a) how easy it is to prey on peoples' fears, and b) Poe's Law.
4) The Cure For Worry Porn
Here I give readers a new lens to think about the nature of the "information" the media offers us, along with a discussion of the key fundamental problems inherent to all scientific studies. The next time you read some hoax-like article claiming a link between a perfectly reasonable everyday activity and some dreaded disease, you'll be ready with your own logic.
5) Create Your Own Food Myths For Fun and Profit
Scientific studies and the media aren't the only institutions geared specifically to trigger and prey upon our fears. Many ostensibly "good" public health organizations and health advocates do the exact same thing. How? Because of a gigantic--and ironic--mismatch between their goals and our good health. I give readers a textbook example of one such truth-bending public health organization in this post.
* You'll have to wait for it. ;)
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