Watch Risky Business

Written by: The Exchange

‘Tis the season for goblins and ghosts, that time when fear is actually meant to be fun and festive. Of course this year, has been an especially frightening one and the idea of actively seeking out new things to spook us just feels… wrong. But it turns out that, as a species, we’re not even especially good at figuring out what to fear. The things that terrify us often shouldn’t. And the things we face with a relatively blasé attitude should genuinely give us significant pause. So what’s up with that? Join psychologist Bill Hallman, a professor at Rutgers University who studies risk perception, as we unpack the factors that explain this uniquely human inability to distinguish between safe and scary.

Featuring Actor/Producer Ahmed Best who will join Dr. Hallman in conversation for this event


William (Bill) Hallman is a professor and Chair of the Department of Human Ecology at Rutgers University. A psychologist with expertise in risk communication, he studies how people think about and respond to real and perceived threats to themselves, to public health, and to the environment. He has served as Chair of FDA’s Risk Communication Advisory Committee and is currently a member of the NASEM Standing Committee on Advancing Science Communication, and of the Advisory Committee for NASEM’s Climate Communications Initiative.

Ahmed Best is an Adjunct Lecturer at the USC School of Dramatic Arts and senior fellow at USC Annenberg Innovation Lab. He’s the Assistant Artistic Director of the Echo theater Company, host of Star Wars Jedi Temple Challenge on Star Wars Kids and the Afrofuturist Podcast; CEO of BISN Media; and a writer, director, producer, actor, musician, and futurist. He starred in the Broadway musical Stomp and as the first CGI lead character in a motion picture, as Jar Jar Binks in the Star Wars Prequel trilogy.

The statements and opinions expressed in this piece are those of the event participants and do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for this event or of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.