100 Years of Fears

A graph showing the volume of New York Times 'fear' articles from 1900-2009

Fear is a powerful psychological concept that politicians, activists and the media have used to their advantage since time immemorial. Although we might like to blame the modern media on a worsening condition of fearful press, it may not be wholly accurate.

The graph above, from the Google News Archive,¬†shows the volume of New York Times articles mentioning ‘fear’ since 1900. Perhaps we have become so oversaturated with fear that it is no-longer newsworthy.

Matching articles from each decade were passed into Wordle to extract the most fearful topics of each decade. A war-torn century was briefly broken by fears of politicians during the 20’s prohibition, communism and civil rights in the 60s, and AIDS in the 80s.

Dan Zambonini

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Dan Zambonini is a co-founder at Eighty-Five Technologies Inc. Their most recent project is Docoh - SEC EDGAR Filings Search. He wrote A Practical Guide to Web App Success, the leading web application book. You can usually find him twittering on about something on Twitter at @zambonini.