View Full Version : How risky is it?

5th Sep 2011, 12:26
“Only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. So, it is claimed, said F D Roosevelt. Now, in a case of reviewing the laws of unintended consequences, the psychologist and statistician Gerd Gigerenzer has pointed out again how the human perception of risk is not always based upon rationality.

The official death toll for the September 11 attacks stands at 2,996, including the 19 hijackers, but research suggests that there is a further, indirect toll as a result of behavioural changes induced by fear.

In the months after the 2001 terror attacks, passenger miles on the main US airlines fell by between 12% and 20%, while road use jumped.

The change is widely believed to have been caused by concerned passengers opting to drive rather than fly. Travelling long distances by car is more dangerous than travelling the same distance by plane.

Measuring the exact effect is complex because there is no way of knowing for sure what the trends in road travel would have been had 9/11 not happened. However, Professor Gerd Gigerenzer, a German academic specialising in risk, has estimated that an extra 1,595 Americans died in car accidents in the year after the attacks – indirect victims of the tragedy….

Gigerenzer said governments shared the blame for excess deaths in the wake of terrorism or natural disasters, due to efforts to reduce their culpability for any misfortune. Citing last year's grounding of planes in European airspace due to a volcanic ash cloud, he argued: "When British Airways and Air France did test flights through the ash, they encountered no problems.

"But decision-making is defensive. Politicians would be held responsible if a plane had crashed when flying through the ash cloud. If people are killed because they are forced to take their car instead, they are not blamed."
Gigerenzer has made some contentious claims before e.g. reference the efficacy of testing for breast cancer, but that is another interesting hullabaloo.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/05/september-11-road-deaths (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/05/september-11-road-deaths)

http://www.bmj.com/content/327/7417/741.full (http://www.bmj.com/content/327/7417/741.full)


5th Sep 2011, 18:33
Gerd would approve of the general caution about questioning his approach! :)

I mean, who would trust a man called Gerd when he talks about risk?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gastroesophageal_reflux_disease)


6th Sep 2011, 03:30
I rarely see mention that there was a democratic election held in New York City on 9/11, so perhaps fewer people were at work bright and early because they were exercising their right to freely cast a ballot and make their voice heard in a free political system.

Did the passengers on the airplane get to vote?

Did the people in the buildings choose to look out the window and die when hit by a plane?

Did police and firefighters and others choose, or have no choice other than to rise to the occasion to help others at risk to themselves?

Is it easier to destroy something than to build it?

Does the easy way help anyone?

6th Sep 2011, 03:40
Instead of blaming pollies why doesn't old Gerdie boy blame
the islamic terrorist organisations who perpetrated these acts
to begin with?

Just sue the arses off them after they're executed. The Bin
Laden tribe have millions.