Monday, June 9

Our Civilization of Fear

No previous generation ever lived in such a safe world as we do; we live longer, we murder each other less frequently, much less frequently do we experience the tragedy of losing a child. We are healthier, we do not have to fear hunger, much less often do we fall victim of natural disasters, not to mention wild animals. But we have the same or greater fears and anxieties as our forbears, and many of those fears are delusions that we allow ourselves to be talked into...

Philip Tetlock, a psychologist from the University of California, examined the accuracy of the predictions of sociologists, economists, and journalists over a period of twenty years. He checked 82,361 predictions, and their accuracy was so pathetic that guessing at random would give better results. And they were not any old predictions or any old experts. In 1975 the world was supposed to start dying of worldwide hunger, later we were suppose to become extinct because of a demographic bomb, and of course according to Rachel Carson’s prediction there are no more birds, and that is not because of a nuclear war--which was also unavoidable.
That's from Andrzej Koraszewski, in what amounts to a review of Dan Gardner's Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear.

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