Overreactions to threats

Bruce Schneier, a security guru, writes in his superb article Rare risks and overreactions:

We can see the effects of this all the time. We fear being murdered, kidnapped, raped and assaulted by strangers, when it’s far more likely that the perpetrator of such offenses is a relative or a friend. We worry about airplane crashes and rampaging shooters instead of automobile crashes and domestic violence — both far more common.

In the United States, dogs, snakes, bees and pigs each kill more people per year (.pdf) than sharks. In fact, dogs kill more humans than any animal except for other humans. Sharks are more dangerous than dogs, yes, but we’re far more likely to encounter dogs than sharks.

Our greatest recent overreaction to a rare event was our response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. I remember then-Attorney General John Ashcroft giving a speech in Minnesota — where I live — in 2003, and claiming that the fact there were no new terrorist attacks since 9/11 was proof that his policies were working. I thought: “There were no terrorist attacks in the two years preceding 9/11, and you didn’t have any policies. What does that prove?”

It’s an article worth reading and then re-reading because of the “security theatre” that’s going on around us so much of the time. The media, government agencies, and people in general tend to gloss over the “regular” crimes for the “rare” ones because we tend to focus on what’s available and what stands out.

Here’s the link again: Rare risks and overreactions.

Advertisements

Your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s