Re: SPACE: Cassini Mission Consequences

Michael Lorrey (
Mon, 22 Sep 1997 20:27:39 -0400 wrote:
> On 21 Sep 1997, Anders Sandberg wrote:
> > I think much of the problem here is due to the fact that humans are
> > bad at risk analysis. We tend to worry too much about rare, dramatic
> > disasters and too little about common, undramatic problems. So while
> > people quarrel about Cassini and nuclear power, they think it is
> > quite natural to drive a car or eat all food they like.
> This may be because (pre)people were killed by the usual causes,
> stavation, predation, pestilence, before the long range risks had time to
> mature. With little need to fine tune risk assessment of subtle killers
> that work over extended time periods, I can see why the 'Big Ones' would cause
> more concern: They stand out. Certainly protecting against even remote risk
> provides some advatage while more pertinant and less visible risks go
> unnoticed.

Its just a matter of what dwells in people's memories. Big adrenaline
rushing disasters tend to be reinforced in the mind more than subtle,
everyday killers, even though many more people are killed by everyday
humdrum things than catastrophes. People look at the one bomb for
Hiroshima and forget that many more people were killed in the
firebombing of Dresden, and probably they died much more cruel deaths
for the most part than the flash fried Hiroshimans. I doubt that more
than 1 in ten Americans even know that Dresden is in Germany or what
happened there, yet at least half if not more know what happened at
Hiroshima and where it is, when and why. You don't see any worldwide
protests and campaigns to ban conventional bombs, do you? Nor any laws
about how much cholesterol and fat are allowed in foods, even though
they kill more people than radiation or nicotine ever will.

			Michael Lorrey
------------------------------------------------------------	Inventor of the Lorrey Drive
MikeySoft: Graphic Design/Animation/Publishing/Engineering
How many fnords did you see before breakfast today?