Here is an excellent piece by Frank Furedi. Excerpt:
“Political debate is often reduced to competing claims about what to fear. Claims about the threat of terrorism or child obesity or asylum seekers compete for the attention of the public. In this way, our anxieties become politicised and turned into a politics of fear. Health activists, environmentalists and advocacy groups are no less involved in using scare stories to pursue their agenda than politicians devoted to getting the public’s attention through inciting anxieties about crime and law and order.”
I recommend you read the whole thing. Hat tip to Craig Newmark.

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