Should we be most afraid of fear itself?

 
Jan_CAN
 
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Jan_CAN
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20 January 2019 09:38
 

As Franklin D. Roosevelt said in his Inaugural Address 1933, “... the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”.


Politics of fear
https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Politics_of_fear

Fear and Anxiety Drive Conservatives’ Political Attitudes
https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/mind-in-the-machine/201612/fear-and-anxiety-drive-conservatives-political-attitudes


It appears that fear is on the rise (again) and is not unique to one people or country.

Fear is a primal emotion that is essential to protect us from harm.  However, if it is not properly balanced by reason, it can also be our enemy, especially in politics.  Fear can distract and deprive us of optimism, confidence and fair-mindedness.  And in addition to reason, it could be balanced by positive emotions such as compassion and hope.

I think we should start by asking ourselves questions such as:
– What am I most afraid of?
– Is this fear justified, i.e. not being manipulated by unrealistic and/or negative influences?
– What is the most rational and humane response to this fear, one that will lead to positive results?

Personally, I fear the influence of the far-right/extreme conservatism.  But in fighting harmful ideas, an effort must also be made to remain rational and understanding.  This is often easier said than done.

What is the most effective way to control our social/political fears?

 
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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20 January 2019 10:51
 
Jan_CAN - 20 January 2019 09:38 AM

As Franklin D. Roosevelt said in his Inaugural Address 1933, “... the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”.


Politics of fear
https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Politics_of_fear

Fear and Anxiety Drive Conservatives’ Political Attitudes
https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/mind-in-the-machine/201612/fear-and-anxiety-drive-conservatives-political-attitudes


It appears that fear is on the rise (again) and is not unique to one people or country.

Fear is a primal emotion that is essential to protect us from harm.  However, if it is not properly balanced by reason, it can also be our enemy, especially in politics.  Fear can distract and deprive us of optimism, confidence and fair-mindedness.  And in addition to reason, it could be balanced by positive emotions such as compassion and hope.

I think we should start by asking ourselves questions such as:
– What am I most afraid of?
– Is this fear justified, i.e. not being manipulated by unrealistic and/or negative influences?
– What is the most rational and humane response to this fear, one that will lead to positive results?

Personally, I fear the influence of the far-right/extreme conservatism.  But in fighting harmful ideas, an effort must also be made to remain rational and understanding.  This is often easier said than done.

What is the most effective way to control our social/political fears?

Two points:

1 - More and more it seems I’ve become a centrist. I don’t think my positions have changed much, it’s just that classic liberalism has been pushed towards the center because of extremists on the left. I would say that I’m quite worried about extremism from both ends of any number of spectrums.

2 - We have to rely on facts and statistics, to reduce fear. Much of the media is now corrupting the truth in pursuit of broader readership. There are a lot of bad people out there: rapists, InCels, white supremacists and so on, but how big are these groups really? I’d guess that there are very few InCels or white supremacists (i’m not talking about bigots), compared to rapists.

Personally, I know I’m quite reactive whenever I hear about even the slightest incursions into our civil liberties. I should walk the walk and get the facts. So, for example, at thefire.org they’ve been tracking the percentage of college campuses that have “speech codes” that infringe on free speech on college campuses. The good news is that the percentage is going down. The somewhat shocking news is that it’s still 28.5%.

fire: campuses with speech codes

I’ve already admitted that my bias is to be most worried about civil liberties. That said, I think that speech codes are a far bigger problem than InCels, but InCels get more of the headlines.

So, we have to get the facts.

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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20 January 2019 11:49
 
icehorse - 20 January 2019 10:51 AM

Two points:

1 - More and more it seems I’ve become a centrist. I don’t think my positions have changed much, it’s just that classic liberalism has been pushed towards the center because of extremists on the left. I would say that I’m quite worried about extremism from both ends of any number of spectrums.

2 - We have to rely on facts and statistics, to reduce fear. Much of the media is now corrupting the truth in pursuit of broader readership. There are a lot of bad people out there: rapists, InCels, white supremacists and so on, but how big are these groups really? I’d guess that there are very few InCels or white supremacists (i’m not talking about bigots), compared to rapists.

Personally, I know I’m quite reactive whenever I hear about even the slightest incursions into our civil liberties. I should walk the walk and get the facts. So, for example, at thefire.org they’ve been tracking the percentage of college campuses that have “speech codes” that infringe on free speech on college campuses. The good news is that the percentage is going down. The somewhat shocking news is that it’s still 28.5%.

fire: campuses with speech codes

I’ve already admitted that my bias is to be most worried about civil liberties. That said, I think that speech codes are a far bigger problem than InCels, but InCels get more of the headlines.

So, we have to get the facts.

The question I intended to pose in the OP was how best to control and deal with our fears positively, not an ‘in-depth’ on our own personal fears.  (Please, let’s not get into such specifics as free speech as this would be its own topic and has been discussed at length on other threads.)

I strongly agree that it is important to get the facts straight and that this can help reduce fear.  (Or at least make it more clear what exactly should be feared and what should not.)  In doing so, we should base our positions on the best information available, and not just look for information that reinforces any biases.  It’s also important to keep our perspective by recognizing the media’s tendency to sensationalize.  It’s unfortunate that the public and the media sometimes play off each other in such a way that just serves to increase anxiety and divisiveness.

 

 
 
icehorse
 
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20 January 2019 11:57
 

Hey Jan,

I only brought up the centrist stuff because you listed a few of your own fears in the OP.

I didn’t bring up the free speech thoughts to derail the thread, only as an example of an important story that gets under-reported.

We’re largely agreed on how important it is to get good, quality info.

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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20 January 2019 12:14
 
icehorse - 20 January 2019 11:57 AM

Hey Jan,

I only brought up the centrist stuff because you listed a few of your own fears in the OP.

I didn’t bring up the free speech thoughts to derail the thread, only as an example of an important story that gets under-reported.

We’re largely agreed on how important it is to get good, quality info.

No problem, Icehorse – I probably shouldn’t have included my own fear in the OP.
I’m not sure my posed question will result in any answers other than common sense ones that we all agree on.  It’s just that I’ve been musing lately on the damage that can be done by the effects of our societies’ collective fears.

[ Edited: 20 January 2019 12:22 by Jan_CAN]
 
 
icehorse
 
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20 January 2019 12:26
 
Jan_CAN - 20 January 2019 12:14 PM
icehorse - 20 January 2019 11:57 AM

Hey Jan,

I only brought up the centrist stuff because you listed a few of your own fears in the OP.

I didn’t bring up the free speech thoughts to derail the thread, only as an example of an important story that gets under-reported.

We’re largely agreed on how important it is to get good, quality info.

No problem, Icehorse – I probably shouldn’t have included my own fear in the OP.
I’m not sure my posed question will result in any answers other than common sense ones that we all agree on.  It’s just that I’ve been musing lately on the damage that can be done by the effects of our collective fears.

I just finished reading a book called “factfulness”. One of the book’s main messages is that we all operate with skewed world views. Here’s an example:

What percentage of the world’s children get vaccinated?

10%, 30%, 50%, or 80% ?

Most of the world’s political, business, and media leaders do not know the answer to this question. Being wrong about this crucial fact leads to a lot of problems.

All this to say, I wouldn’t downplay the importance of good data in mitigating fear, or at least in correctly determining what to be afraid of.

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The answer is 80%.

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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20 January 2019 12:59
 
icehorse - 20 January 2019 12:26 PM

I just finished reading a book called “factfulness”. One of the book’s main messages is that we all operate with skewed world views. Here’s an example:

What percentage of the world’s children get vaccinated?

10%, 30%, 50%, or 80% ?

Most of the world’s political, business, and media leaders do not know the answer to this question. Being wrong about this crucial fact leads to a lot of problems.

All this to say, I wouldn’t downplay the importance of good data in mitigating fear, or at least in correctly determining what to be afraid of.
.
The answer is 80%.

The answer in your example regarding % of children vaccinated seems high (skewed view?); if I needed use of this data, I would want to confirm it from a number of sources.

I agree that we shouldn’t downplay the importance of good data.  But I think knowing the facts is just the first step, i.e. accurate & complete data + correct interpretation + compassion = best results.

 

 
 
icehorse
 
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20 January 2019 18:12
 
Jan_CAN - 20 January 2019 12:59 PM
icehorse - 20 January 2019 12:26 PM

I just finished reading a book called “factfulness”. One of the book’s main messages is that we all operate with skewed world views. Here’s an example:

What percentage of the world’s children get vaccinated?

10%, 30%, 50%, or 80% ?

Most of the world’s political, business, and media leaders do not know the answer to this question. Being wrong about this crucial fact leads to a lot of problems.

All this to say, I wouldn’t downplay the importance of good data in mitigating fear, or at least in correctly determining what to be afraid of.
.
The answer is 80%.

The answer in your example regarding % of children vaccinated seems high (skewed view?); if I needed use of this data, I would want to confirm it from a number of sources.

I agree that we shouldn’t downplay the importance of good data.  But I think knowing the facts is just the first step, i.e. accurate & complete data + correct interpretation + compassion = best results.

Here’s some interesting info from UNICEF:

world-wide vaccinations

Another point the book makes is that things we often think are static, are not. So vaccination percentages were much different 50 years ago, even 30 years ago, but humans aren’t very good at updating old information.

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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20 January 2019 19:15
 
icehorse - 20 January 2019 06:12 PM

Here’s some interesting info from UNICEF:

world-wide vaccinations

Another point the book makes is that things we often think are static, are not. So vaccination percentages were much different 50 years ago, even 30 years ago, but humans aren’t very good at updating old information.

This vaccination data shows where progress has been made and where there is still much work to be done.  As an example of the importance of factual and up-to-date data, these statistics about vaccinations are interesting.  It appears the lack of success in meeting the 90% or greater goal is complex and related to conflicts, lack of resources, etc., but not so much related to societal fears in the west.

The sensationalism, inaccurate/slanted data, sloppy news reporting, and even fear-mongering that we’re exposed to we must try to sift through and make sense of.  To stay calm and pick our battles carefully.

 

 
 
mapadofu
 
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20 January 2019 19:41
 

An idea.  Try to differentiate between fear in the sense of being concerned about a negative outcome, and fear as an emotional reaction to perceived threat.  Maybe it’s just me, but I believe that the former often manifests with the emotional impact of the latter.


BTW I believe that fear, in a couple of different flavours, has been at the heart of many bad US policy decisions since 2001.

Fear is the mindkiller… and all that,

[ Edited: 20 January 2019 19:44 by mapadofu]
 
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20 January 2019 20:43
 
mapadofu - 20 January 2019 07:41 PM

An idea.  Try to differentiate between fear in the sense of being concerned about a negative outcome, and fear as an emotional reaction to perceived threat.  Maybe it’s just me, but I believe that the former often manifests with the emotional impact of the latter.


BTW I believe that fear, in a couple of different flavours, has been at the heart of many bad US policy decisions since 2001.

Fear is the mindkiller… and all that,

I think I understand what you mean and would agree.  A liberal might fear the influence of the far-Right, and a fundamentalist Christian might fear that of the atheist or vice versa, but if it is experienced too strongly as a personal threat, it is unlikely to serve any purpose, or worse.  However, when justified fears are tempered with reason, it can result in a resolve and determination for the appropriate action when necessary.

I also agree that fear can be a ‘mindkiller’, which is along the line of what I was thinking when starting this thread.  I don’t think it’s that easy to control our anxieties/fears entirely, but should at least try to control our reactions as best we can.