Monday, 18 February 2008

10 Ways We Get the Odds Wrong

From Psychology Today, via 3QD, comes an interesting list of how me estimate risk and how we tend to get it wrong. It's the sort of thing you come across a lot when reading Pop-Sci books, but it's always nice to have it put so concisely. The ten ways are:

I. We Fear Snakes, Not Cars
Risk and emotion are inseparable.

II. We Fear Spectacular, Unlikely Events
Fear skews risk analysis in predictable ways.

III. We Fear Cancer But Not Heart Disease
We underestimate threats that creep up on us.

IV. No Pesticide in My Backyard—Unless I Put it There
We prefer that which (we think) we can control.

V. We Speed Up When We Put Our Seat belts On
We substitute one risk for another.

VI. Teens May Think Too Much About Risk—And Not Feel Enough
Why using your cortex isn't always smart.

VII. Why Young Men Will Never Get Good Rates on Car Insurance
The "risk thermostat" varies widely.

VIII. We Worry About Teen Marijuana Use, But Not About Teen Sports
Risk arguments cannot be divorced from values.

IX. We Love Sunlight But Fear Nuclear Power
Why "natural" risks are easier to accept.

X. We Should Fear Fear Itself
Why worrying about risk is itself risky.

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