Is fear a financial motivator?

Should we live in fear of things like high frequency trading?

Image of Encyclopedia Paranoiaca
Author: Henry Beard, Christopher Cerf
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2012)
Binding: Hardcover, 400 pages

With every new innovation to improve our lives we get new fears  -- think Google's "driverless car" or high speed stock trading. A couple of humor writers set out to catalogue all the threats all around us in a book is called "Encyclopedia Paranoica."

It seems like even if you try to be careful to avoid the hazards in life, you might be damned if you do and damned if you don't, according to author Christopher Cerf.

"For example," he says, "we've always believed that carrots are good for your eyes. But recently the Australian Macular Degeneration Foundation has discovered that carrots actually actually cause macular degeneration." They recommend spinach instead -- but, that comes with its own set of problems.

He thinks there are underlying financial motives to all of these scare tactics.

"I think when people say everything's going to be great," he points out, "it doesn't make for very good reading or radio or television. But beyond that, fear mongering seems to be the main way people either sell something or to advance their own agenda."

About the author

Jeff Horwich is the interim host of Marketplace Morning Report and a sometime-Marketplace reporter.
Image of Encyclopedia Paranoiaca
Author: Henry Beard, Christopher Cerf
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2012)
Binding: Hardcover, 400 pages

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