Thursday, March 17, 2011

What’s a Disaster?

The Independent Institute:

What’s a Disaster?

A Citizen’s Guide to Surviving the Fear Mongers

Many people make big bucks these days scaring you about what’s happening, or about to happen, in the world. The media folks top the list, obviously: the more frightened you are, the more of their content you watch. There’s a second reason why media people exaggerate: the storyteller’s bias. When someone comes rushing back to the cave to tell about the saber-toothed tiger he just saw, the attention and adoration of his listeners depends on the size and ferocity of the tiger. Tell them it was a small, dead tiger, and everyone goes back to sleep.

...To counter these professional fear-mongers, we need an objective guide to the disasters we are likely to face, a scientific ranking that enables us to gauge the harm in each case. The scale proposed below is based on the number of deaths involved; one can assume a proportional economic and environmental harm....


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