Assessing Risks

The Freakonomics podcast on (among other things)  how we assess risks was just what I needed to hear today.  It’s not exactly on the topic of fear I last posted about, but I think it fits in places.  Besides, it’s just really thought-provoking, as all these podcasts are. (Go here to listen).

Some gold nuggets culled from the various interviewees :

  • Risk can be measured, uncertainty can not.
  • We take our cues from other people.
  • We seek out information that confirms our pre-existing bias and we’re congenitally bad at assessing risk.
  • We seek patterns, whether they are accurate or not.
  • We worry about the wrong things.  Chances are, it’s the cheeseburgers that are going to kill us, not the other things we (needlessly) worry about.
  • Michael Shermer explained how we are programmed to believe that all rustles in the grass are dangerous predators just in case they are.  There is no evolutionary advantage to being mistaken in this assessment.  Being wrong means being eaten.  But this means that most of the time our assessments of danger are not accurate.

Image found here.

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