The Cost of Fear

Fear is expensive.

Fear of catastrophe makes us pay insurance premiums for years to hedge against things that will probably never happen.

Fear of litigation drives up the cost of running a business and makes health care cost far more than it should.

Fear of crime causes people in perfectly safe neighborhoods buy guns, alarm systems, and panic rooms.

Fearful parents can become helicopters, always circling their children, keeping them safe at the expense of limiting their experience of the world.

Fear pushes reactionary regulation that drives governmental costs into the stratosphere.

Fear of theft prevents people from sharing ideas that could change the world.

Fear of failure prevents brilliant people from acting, and our collective future suffers for it.

Fear is a nasty communicable disease passed from mind to mind.  We, as humans, are fascinated by stories of tragedy and loss.  We can’t look away.  The train wreck always draws our attention.

The problem is, the people who are paid to collect up that attention and hold it know about our morbid subconscious preference.  Their overemphasis on the negative creates a perception that the world is a far worse place than it really is.  This drives all of the behaviors above, and incurs their costs.

There is only one way to stop the cycle.  Turn off the news.  Don’t click on the juicy headlines.  Wean yourself off the negative.  Refuse to be afraid.  Vote for content by withholding your attention.  If enough people refuse to be entertained by the negative, it will no longer be a profitable approach.  Then the healing can begin, and the costs of fear will fall.



I am addicted to learning about why. From nutrition to neuroscience and philosophy to behavioral economics I am always seeking to understand. When I am not completely immersed in the latest book to catch my eye or practicing Brazilian jujitsu, I am usually cooking for my wonderful wife, playing with my two beautiful kids or out running with one of our dogs.


  1. Great post Thad and points out how truly expensive and devastating fear can be. I have found that it is much easier to be positive about life, when one limits their consumption of what is generally referred to as news or current events.

    1. I agree Donna. Media consumption can be toxic. I recently read the book Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday and it took two weeks to find my way back to writing regularly on a blog I was so disturbed. The author gives detailed accounts about how he spent years intentionally deceiving bloggers and the media to create publicity for his clients. His biggest weapon was manipulating peoples fear and anger to call attention to the things he was trying to promote. The disheartening part was how eager these media sources were for fear based stories. Limiting consumption is certainly warranted.

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