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WMD TerrorismScience and Policy Choices$
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Stephen M. Maurer

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780262012980

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262012980.001.0001

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Fear Itself: Predicting and Managing Public Response to a WMD Attack

Fear Itself: Predicting and Managing Public Response to a WMD Attack

(p.439) 16 Fear Itself: Predicting and Managing Public Response to a WMD Attack
WMD Terrorism

Stephen M. Maurer

Michael O’Hare

The MIT Press

This chapter reviews what is known about the public’s likely response to WMD terrorism and how government can influence it for the better. Historical and psychological evidence suggests that the public responds to attacks with calm and resilience. Public policy interventions can potentially reinforce this resilience by (1) teaching individuals how to protect themselves during the inevitable interval when government command and control fail; (2) correcting inaccurate, culturally inspired beliefs that chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons are so lethal that fatalism and passivity are the only appropriate response; and (3) reaching out to nongovernment elites (union representatives, social organizations, journalists) through consultation, education, exercises, and the like.

Keywords:   terrorist attack, terrorism, public reaction, national security, homeland security, resilience, public policy

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