Reporting on Relative Risk

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Tue Jul 17 2001 - 19:01:43 MDT

from THE LIGHTHOUSE "Enlightening Ideas for Public Policy..." Vol. 3, Issue
28 July 17, 2001

In the demon-filled world of the late 20th and early 21st century, risk is
everywhere, and among the noblest activities of government is its continual
search to slay each and every demonic risk.

That, at least, is the impression one gets about the American attitude
toward environmental, industrial and lifestyle risk from the popular
culture. How noteworthy, then, when the press gets the story on risk right.

In her July 9th column, San Francisco Chronicle reporter Carolyn Lochhead
reports the inconsistencies -- and often lunacies -- in promoting "zero
risk" policies across the board. In our daily lives we often undertake
pursuits far riskier than the ones we ask lawmakers to prevent. We sunbathe,
we barbecue, we drive in small cars. At the same time we worry about global
warming, trace levels of impurities in drinking water, and flying in
ultra-safe airplanes.

"So, while we lie on the beach this summer doing our own little risk/benefit
analysis," Lochhead writes, "we might ponder another useful summer
statistic: more people are injured by tennis rackets than by arrows." [Yeah,
but there are a lot more tennis players around most of us, these days, then
archers. -- Daniel Ust]

See "Relative Risk of Fun in the Sun," by Carolyn Lochhead, at

Also see:

CUTTING GREEN TAPE: Toxic Pollutants, Environmental Regulation and
the Law, edited by Richard Stroup and Roger Meiners, at

Robert Formaini's review of RATIONAL RISK POLICY by W. Kip Viscusi

Price Fishback's review of CALCULATING RISK: The Spatial and
Political Dimensions of Hazardous Waste Reduction, by James T.
Hamilton and W. Kip Viscusi (THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW, Winter 2001), at

"Public Health vs. the Nanny State?" an Independent Policy Forum
transcript with Jacob Sullum and Thomas DiLorenzo, at

Copyright 2001 The Independent Institute
100 Swan Way
Oakland, CA 94621-1428
(510) 632-1366 phone
(510) 568-6040 fax

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