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Dealing with Risk

Why the Public and the Experts Disagree on Environmental Issues

For decades, policymakers and analysts have been frustrated by the stubborn and often dramatic disagreement between experts and the public on acceptable levels of environmental risk. Most experts, for instance, see no severe problem in dealing with nuclear waste, given the precautions and safety levels now in place. Yet public opinion vehemently rejects this view, repudiating both the experts’ analysis and the evidence.

In Dealing with Risk, Howard Margolis moves beyond the usual "rival rationalities" explanation proffered by risk analysts for the rift between expert and lay opinion. He reveals the conflicts of intuition that undergird those concerns, and proposes a new approach to the psychology of persuasion and belief. Examining the role of intuition, mental habits, and cognitive frameworks in the construction of public opinion, this compelling account bridges the public policy impasse that has plagued controversial environmental issues.

238 pages | 1 halftone, 6 line drawings, 1 tables | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 | © 1996

Political Science: Public Policy

Psychology: Social Psychology

Table of Contents

1. Setting the Stage
2. The Usual Suspects
3. How Habits of Mind Govern Intuition
4. The Risk Matrix
5. Experts and Victims
6. Examining Cases
7. Two Modest Proposals: Some Background
8. "Do No Harm"
9. Political Externalities
10. Afterword

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