The Real Story of Risk

Monday, January 14, 2013

Glenn Croston explains the risks we face every day in the world and why we're not good at dealing with common risks in our lives. For example, heart disease is responsible for one in five deaths, but we more often worry about rare events like shark attacks (one in a million) and airplane crashes (one in twenty thousand). His book The Real Story of Risk: Adventures in a Hazardous World  investigates what accounts for our poor ability to perceive and react to the risks that really matter.


Glenn Croston

Comments [12]

Amy from Manhattan

On BP (& Massey Mines, & too many others), that's what I call confusing safety with luck.

Jan. 14 2013 01:57 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Seems to me the risk resulting from anxiety is lower than the risk that can result from denial.

Jan. 14 2013 01:51 PM

The the thing that the Global Warming Denier Senators are engaged in is not "denial". They're simply protecting the profit margin of their biggest constituents; BIG Oil.

It's called short-term profit!

Jan. 14 2013 01:50 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Graham Walker: I think it's not just control--people are no more afraid to be car passengers than they are to be drivers. But if you're in a car accident, you have more of a chance of surviving than if you're in a plane crash, & people tend to respond more to how they imagine a single incident than to statistics.

Jan. 14 2013 01:49 PM
Wayne Johnson Ph.D. from Bk

Humans kill millions of sharks and snakes each year for their fins and skins respectively. Who really bears the risk here?

Jan. 14 2013 01:47 PM
John A

Depression gave us our "Greatest Generation" whereas prosperity gave us .... well, this. So the cycle goes round.

Jan. 14 2013 01:45 PM
Amy from Manhattan

What's the role of denial in all this? We certainly haven't evolved out of that, yet it can keep us from preventing both short- & long-term risks.

Jan. 14 2013 01:43 PM
thomas from astoria

How about the risk of career choice that might go well -- yet risks one's well being. How is that risk managed or mismanaged?

Jan. 14 2013 01:40 PM
Tom from UWS

Research shows that humans relate more to animals the more the animal looks like "us" (dogs, cats ...) or in another way appeals: beauty, song, comfort. It's not that mysterious: you don't have to "learn" to be attracted to what is attractive to you. Nature has helped us survive through those instincts.

Jan. 14 2013 01:37 PM
Bonn from East Village

Why is it that I am NOT afraid of snakes, mice, rats, etc.? When others scream, I just look at the creature and don't understand why others are upset. I captured a mouse in my apartment and took it outside. I also swim in the ocean. Is something wrong with my amygdala? My fight or flight reflex?

Jan. 14 2013 01:35 PM
Graham Walker from Bronx

We often downplay higher risks if we appear to have control over them. For example, we worry about aircraft crash deaths more than car accident deaths (despite the statistics) because we think I'm in charge of driving the car and I will act safely, while in an aircraft we have no control over the flying or the maintenance of the aircraft.

Jan. 14 2013 12:03 PM
George from Brooklyn

How does risk aversion affect our lives?

Jan. 14 2013 02:50 AM

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