Dealing Reasonably with Irrational FearDanger - risk of harm to ourselves or our loved ones - is a compelling
element in storytelling. Conspiracy theories, alternative medicine and
urban legends all thrive on hints of secret danger.
As individuals and groups, humans are very bad at both estimating and
comparing dangers. We will accept different amounts of risk depending on
how the question is framed. We will less to avoid danger than we would
want to be paid to accept the same danger. More importantly, when
presented with two equal threats, we will sacrifice convenience, money and
liberty to avoid one, but insist that it is an inalienable right to
subject ourselves to the other.
Dr Andrew Rae is a safety and risk researcher. He ponders the question of
how to reasonably assess and regulate risks in a society where safety
officials face more danger driving to work than they protect the public
from by performing their occupations.
Drew reports for the Pod Delusion podcast on issues relating to science
Saturday, 15 October 2011 14:00