Why I Write

I don’t normally share reader email but when I receive this sort of thing, well… As I told this person, for a writer, to be read is a success; to be read and provoke thought is a victory; to be read and provoke thought that improves someone’s life is a dream. (By the way, The Science of Fear is the same book as Risk. It’s just the American title. Why is it called Risk in the 15 other countries it has been published in but The Science of Fear in the US? Because that’s what American publishers do, for reasons that I cannot grasp.)

“Please accept my gratitude for your book The Science of Fear. I have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and I’ve struggled against fears of contamination for most of my life. Reading your book while engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy (specifically, exposure and response prevention) with a skilled therapist has been life-changing. I’ve been able to reflect on the role that cognitive biases have played in my thinking and on the ways in which I’ve invited media, institutions, and my own peers to feed my fears. I’ve swallowed countless news accounts, articles, and personal stories about hidden germs and bacteria, environmental contaminants, pesticides, food poisoning, cancer-causing foods, dangerous household cleaning products, water safety, asbestos, and more, with the predictable result that I’ve become more fearful with each passing year. The research you carefully compiled, your use of authoritative sources, and your clearly explicated arguments have helped me shift my thinking and alter my perception of risk.  Thank you so very much. I’m looking forward to a future less bounded by fear.”

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