At first, I was generally excited about Dr. Marc Siegel’s book titled False Alarm. Sadly it took only a few pages of reading to realize that Dr. Siegel, however informed, has not acted in the best interest of his reading audience and has instead gone on to make irresponsible claims. I agree with the general thesis of his book, that there is indeed an epidemic of fear which is present in our postmodern culture. I am in total disagreement however that this it is this epidemic has in someway triggered a series of so called "false alarms."
What is true and has been for some time is that peoples heightened sensitization towards fear has not been in alignment with the actual risks involved. This is not a new phenomenon and has more to do with our physiological and instinctive self preservationist mechanisms. By downplaying the seriousness of threats such as SARS and the West Nile Virus Dr. Siegel risks lowering peoples alertness to other present crises such as HIV/AIDS and the Avian flu influenza. While his concern seems to be that people are scaring themselves to death, it is critical that he and others not undermine the responsibility which the media and other outlets have in presenting urgent information regarding our safety.
I would urge people to read the book in much the same way that I would urge anyone to ask the pertinent questions about any topic. Being informed, remains the greatest tool that people have to make critical decisions about navigating the complexities of modern society.