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Worst CasesTerror and Catastrophe in the Popular Imagination$
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Lee Clarke

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780226108599

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226108605.001.0001

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What's the Worst That Can Happen?

What's the Worst That Can Happen?

(p.61) 3 What's the Worst That Can Happen?
Worst Cases

Lee Clarke

University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines the factors and processes in how worst cases are imagined. It analyzes the mental and institutional mechanisms at work when people imagine things. It suggests that whether we are looking forward in anticipation or looking back to make sense of a situation the imagination is at work, holding some factors at bay while highlighting others, creating scenarios and then trying to convince ourselves and others of their reasonableness. This chapter also explores the relation between cognitive resilience and virtual worst cases, and explains how to tell a good “what if” from a bad one.

Keywords:   worst cases, imagination, cognitive resilience, what if, mental mechanisms, institutional mechanisms

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