Fear is dangerous because of its tendency to cause our instincts to overrule our ability to think; get us to behave against our self-interests; make us more easily exploited by politicians, terrorists, and others with harmful intentions; create enemies; and feed on itself in a vicious downward spiral. The problem is worsened by irresponsible media, politicians who exploit fear by distorting facts about threats to security, social networks that spread hatred and misinformation on the Internet, and cyberattacks. This paper describes these forces and argues that the vicious cycle of fear and the exploitation of fear can be broken by electing responsible leaders, using fear management programs at the national and state levels, applying lessons learned from community policing programs to reduce fear at the local level, and by instituting stronger sanctions against Internet abuse, including defenses against cyberattacks.
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