I really liked Peter Sandman's articles about risk communication. I have never thought about the correlation between outrage and hazard, that there can be so many people that are frightend but there even is no real danger and that there could also be the situation where there is real danger but no one really cares about.
The most fascinating thing for me is Sandman's suggestion how to deal with this knowledge and the different situations.
That you have to differ between the situation where there is real danger but no one really cares, knows or is interesting in listening. In this situation it seems very clear to me that you have to inform people. You have to make them curious and interested with ways like exaggeration, repeating of frightening and important facts, using key words and be short with information and stick to them because otherwise people want pay attention.
But then there is also the sitution with no real danger but people that are upset. In this situation it is important to calm down people and you can't do that if you tell them to do so. You have to be boring. That seems very logically but really new, hard to imagine and also a little bit funny to me! ;) But it is true, you have to use very much time, don't say interesting things or even something and just listen to what the people have to say. If they have spoken about everything that makes them angry, most of the outrage will disappear.
The last situation will be when outrage and risk are at the same level. But this will be the optimum.
One another very amusing but also true and interesting thing I read from Peter Sandman was the part about journalism.
I already knew that the best stories are the ones where there is no risk, but people are very upset. Journalist like to write about it, because it is easy, interesting for themselves much more than pure facts and they can be creative, exaggerate and write real dramatical stories everyone likes to read, because of nearly the same reasons. People like to talk about it and even get in rage and getting upset doing so.
But the thing that was new to me was the test that has been made with 50 articles and different kind of people that had to half the texts and cut out the less important things. In the text it is said that: "Reporters invariably got rid of nearly all the science. Editors invariably got rid of all the science. The public gots rid of most of the science, and the scientists got rid of anything that smacks of humanity". So with exception of the scientists themselves there is no doubt that it is very difficult to get people to know objective facts.
And most of all, if there are news that are really dangerously, journalists and reporters do the opposite, they try to calm down the people and not to write or talk about disturbing things.