Why Do People Fear G.M.O.’s?

Genetically modified food (or G.M.O.'s) continue to provoke heated debates about safety and labeling, even though scientific evidence indicates they're safe.  Why?  A new article in Cosmos by David Ropeik explores the psychology behind people's G.M.O. fears. Here is Ropeik on why man-made risks "feel" scarier than natural risks.

Beyond those heuristics, several specific emotional characteristics also make G.M.O.'s feel scary. These “fear factors” have been identified in pioneering research in risk perception by Paul Slovic at the University of Oregon, Baruch Fischhoff at Carnegie Mellon University, and others. You can hear them pop up as the young man explains his fears. “It’s just not natural to take the gene from one species and put it in another. It’s just not natural!”

The Irony of Road Fear

It's nearly upon us: the centenary of America's first coast-to-coast road, the Lincoln Highway, conceived by entrepreneur Carl G. Fisher in 1912. That means we're also about ready to start celebrating another major anniversary: 100 years of dreading driving on the highway.

What Are the Coming Decade's Most Overblown Fears?

Newsweek is running an online retrospective of the new millennium's first decade. My favorite section to date is the “Overblown Fears” list. Here they are, in order:

1. Y2K
2. Shoe Bombs
3. Vaccines Cause Autism
4. Immigrants
5. Bloggers
6. SARS, Mad Cow, Bird Flu
7. Web Predators
8. Teen Oral Sex Epidemic
9. Anthrax
10. Globalization