Addressing Thy Fears

by Vince

From our military budget ($800 billion – part of it goes to nuclear subs, which we have over a dozen and China doesn’t even have 1 yet) to our fears, we clearly are still in a Cold War frame of mind. Notice the fears of nuclear attacks, nuclear run-off, poisoning, and so on. Even in Japan after their tsunami and earthquake, the bulk of news reporting was focused on nuclear contamination. In the long run, a few hundred people could die from the nuclear contamination. In the short run, tens of thousands of people died from the earthquake. Irrational?

We worry about some things more than the evidence warrants (vaccines, nuclear radiation, genetically modified food), and less about some threats than the evidence warns (climate change, obesity, using our mobiles when we drive). … [This Perception Gap] produces social policies that protect us more from what we’re afraid of than from what in fact threatens us the most (we spend more to protect ourselves from terrorism than heart disease)…which in effect raises our overall risk.

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