Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Szalavitz on "10 Ways We Get the Odds Wrong"

Much of the discussion about climate change adaptation boils down to weighing risk, something that hardly anybody does well. In fact, the insurance industry exists because most people, businesses included, do a lousy job of gauging the uncertainty of various outcomes – another name for risk. They focus on spectacular but unlikely risks, while ignoring stealthier dangers that are much more pertinent.

With scarcely a word about climate, Maia Szalavitz explores this point in the January/February issue of Psychology Today. She deftly illustrates such points as “We underestimate threats that creep up on us,” and “fear skews risk analysis in predictable ways.”

Szalavitz is a senior fellow at the media watchdog group STATS, and a journalist who covers health, science and public policy. Her recent work about abusive teen boot camps have been superb pieces of journalism. She is a co-author of Recovery Options: The Complete Guide.

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