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Dr. Chris Pepin-Neff, Author of Flaws – the Book

Did you know that you are more likely to die because of a selfie than a shark bite?

Reported injuries and deaths related to people trying to take pictures in unsafe places are steadily increasing. They are a lot more than the number of incidents where sharks are involved. Still, people continue to take selfies and view sharks as aggressive and vengeful animals. I want to change this and share a more accurate perspective on sharks through FLAWS the Book.

My book discusses the flaws in the relationship between humans and sharks. It contains my ongoing research on shark bites and comparative public policy—giving you a glimpse of how the public and their emotions could affect policymaking.

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About Me

I am an American-Australian teacher, research academic, and commentator on different public policy issues. I received my PhD in Public Policy in 2014 and hold a Masters Degree in Public Policy (’07) and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science (’99). My research looks at theories of the policy process by focusing on highly emotional issues such as LGBTQI politics and the “politics of shark attacks.”


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Chris Neff

About FLAWS the Book

Sharks are depicted as movie monsters with a thirst for human blood. Because of the public’s fear of sharks, governments around the world have created policies that often kill sharks following human-shark interactions, namely shark bites.

FLAWS investigates the policymaking process during emotionally charged periods by comparing responses to shark bites in three locations. It examines the factors that explain policies which followed incidents in the U.S. state of Florida, the South African city of Cape Town, and the Australian state of New South Wales. Each location reacted differently to these events, with Florida banning eco-tourism shark feeding, Cape Town adopting a Shark Spotter program, and New South Wales funding aerial patrols. Shark bite policy responses are emblematic of other emotionally-laden and seemingly knee-jerk policy responses, yet explaining why one issue or event produces a reaction while another does not remain an elusive question. This book proposes a framework to analyze the policy process based on the roles of emotion in public policy. This framework was used in each case study and showed how the speed and direction of policy responses was influenced. Shark bites are not what they seem. They are a certain kind of social and political event that commonly distribute acute political penalties and lead actors and institutions to lower thresholds to protect themselves. This book is based on my doctoral research and is motivated by the way media attention, public attitude, and the occurrence of human-shark interactions create periods of policy fluctuation or stasis.

My analysis is focused on the fact that shark bites happen because “we are in the way, not on the menu.” The topics for study include:

  • Shark Culls
  • Shark Bite Prevention Policies
  • Public Education
  • The Role of Media Discourse
  • The Emotionality of the Events

These aspects were examined using a mixed-methods research approach. I integrated quantitative and qualitative data methodologies, such as:

  • Case Studies
  • Discourse Analysis
  • Quantitative Survey Analysis

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If you have a question or simply wish to leave a message, fill out the online form. I look forward to hearing from you!