Past Seminar

Does the Media Raise False Alarms About Technological Risks?

May 5, 2004

About the Event

Do the Media Raise too Many False Alarms About Technological Risks?
Wednesday, May 5, 2004

Allan Mazur, Syracuse University                                                                                                                        RFF Seminar Series

Link to Audio of RFF Seminar

Mazur discusses the role of the media in announcing health hazards associated with new technologies. By looking at cases from the 1950s and 1960s--among them oral contraceptives, MSG, cyclamates, mercury pollution, asbestos, DDT, thalidomide, X rays, and radioactive waste storage--Mazur uses historical hindsight to identify the hallmarks of "true warnings" as opposed to "false alarms."

Does the amount of news coverage of an alleged hazard bear any relation to its actual risk? Which of the sources of media information are the most likely to announce true warnings? What clues do journalists have that an alleged hazard is really a false alarm? Mazur’s discussion is based on his new book, True Warnings and False Alarms: Evaluating Fears about Health Risks of Technology, 1948-1971.

Link to True Warnings and False Alarms
True Warnings
and False Alarms