Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Problem

The problem: 2,976 people die including 19 hijackers in the coordinated September 11th suicide attacks against the U.S.

The response: The U.S. invades Iraq and later Afghanistan resulting in hundreds of thousands of casualties, both military and civilian. The U.S. is still trying to recover from our response both militarily and financially.

The problem: Boy gets dumped by girlfriend.

The response: He drinks himself into oblivion or worse.

The problem: Hurricane Sandy devastates the east coast of the U.S. causing untold hardship and billions of dollars in damage.

The response: Practically all Pittsburgh communities, which were not affected locally by the storm, postpone Halloween citing poor weather. (There is a chance of drizzle, like practically every other Halloween.)

The problem: Something horrible happens but it is unclear how to solve the problem.

The response: TRANSFERENCE to something that we can solve.


Big Myk said...

The problem: Practically all Pittsburgh communities, which were not affected locally by the Sandy, postpone Halloween citing poor weather.

The response: Write an embittered blog post.

James R said...

Ah ha! It's even more prevalent than I imagined. (By the way, 'real' Halloween night was cloudy but no rain.)

Big Myk said...

A large part of the problem is that humans have a very poor risk-assessment apparatus, left over from the days we roamed the savannahs. We respond more to threats that are vivid and visceral.

A few examples. One close to my heart is that everyone is worried about snakebites and shark attacks. Well, you're 30 times more likely to be killed by a dog than a shark, and some six times more likely to be killed by a dog than a snake. Pigs kill more people than sharks. Of course, cars are far more dangerous than any of these animals.

And while we're on sharks, your bathtub is a much more dangerous place than the ocean.

Everyone's worried about their kids or themselves being murdered, kidnapped, raped or assaulted by strangers, when the people you really ought to be worried about are your own relatives and acquaintances.

And we now know that more Americans die every year at the hands of their own furniture than terrorists.

People worry about airplane crashes instead of automobile crashes -- which claim far many more lives.

We tend not to worry about the familiar and instead concern ourselves with the exotic.

I found this unattributed rule of thumb valuable:

"I tell people that if it’s in the news, don’t worry about it. The very definition of “news” is “something that hardly ever happens.” It’s when something isn’t in the news, when it’s so common that it’s no longer news — car crashes, domestic violence — that you should start worrying. "