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They say no news is good news. But what that means, of course, is that the stories in our newspapers and TV bulletins tend mostly to be bad news. And in turn our view of the world is coloured by this tendency.
This book analyses that negative influence on our world view – and it is a dramatic bias. In a survey people were asked a series of questions about such important issues as levels of child poverty, disease, deaths from natural disasters and many other important world trends. Most people believed the world to be in a much worse state than it really is. And the difference was so great that even journalists, scientists and politicians were less accurate in answering these questions than chimpanzees picking answers at random!
The bias runs through all the media. The unusual and dramatic always attract the most attention. One death from a bear attack in Sweden, for example, generates acres of news print while numerous deaths resulting from domestic violence are barely mentioned. When such distortions affect political decision-making and budgeting the result can affect every one of us.
This book is both a call to look more carefully at the world and manifesto for rationality and good sense in all walks of life.
Hodder & Stoughton paperback, £9.99