This book tells the inside story of each of the major scares of the past two decades, showing for the first time how they have followed a remarkably consistent pattern.From salmonella in eggs to BSE, from the Millennium Bug to bird 'flu, from DDT to passive smoking, from asbestos to global warming, 'scares' have become one of the most conspicuous and damaging features of our modern world.It analyses the crucial role played in each case by scientists who have misread or manipulated the evidence; by the media and lobbyists who eagerly promote the scare without regard to the facts; and finally by the politicians and aofficials who come up with an absurdly disproportionate response, leaving us all to pay a colossal price, which may run into billions or even hundreds of billions of pounds.The book culminates in a chillingly detailed account of the story behind what it shows has become the greatest scare of them all: the belief that the world faces disaster through man-made global warming. In an epilogue the authors compare our credulity in falling for scares to mass-hysterias of previous ages such as the post-mediaeval 'witch craze', describing our time as a 'new age of superstition'.
Christopher Booker was one of the founders of Private Eye and its first editor. He has a weekly column in the Sunday Telegraph and has published several books. Richard North is a political analyst and was formerly a consultant on public health and food safety. He has co-authored several books with Christopher Booker.
Introduction; Part One: The Food Scares; Prologue; 1. Countdown to an Explosion: How Scares Became A Disaster Waiting To Happen, 1981-8; 2. 'Killer Eggs': The Great Salmonella Scare 1988-9; 3. Enter the Hygiene Police: Paying The Price 1990-4; 4. 'Listeria Hysteria': The Lanark Blue Case 1995; 5. Mad Cows and Madder Politicians: The BSE/CJD Scare 1996-9; 6. Officials Can Kill: Meat, Cheese and E coli 1998; 7. The GBP 1 Billion Blunder: The Belgian Dioxins Debacle 1999; Epilogue to Part One: The Rise of the 'Health and Safety Culture'.; Part Two: The General Scares; Prologue to Part Two: The Millennium Bug.; 8. Sledgehammers To Miss Nuts: A Wider Look At The Scare phenomenon (DDT, Nitrate, Vitamin B6, Cockles).; 9. The Modern Witch Craze: Ritualised Child Abuse; 10. 'Speed Kills: A Safety Scare That Cost Lives.; 11. 'We Love Unleaded': How Confusion Over Lead Cost Billions; 12. Smoke and Mirrors: How They Turned 'Passive Smoking' Into A Killer; 13. 'One Fibre Can Kill': The Great Asbestos Scam.; 14. 'Saving The Planet': The New Secular Religion; 15. 'Licensed To Kill': The Scare That Never Was; Epilogue: A New Age of Superstition.