[extropy-chat] SUV versus sedan versus motorcycle

Brett Paatsch bpaatsch at bigpond.net.au
Fri Aug 20 07:18:35 UTC 2004

> On Aug 19, 2004, at 4:26 PM, Brett Paatsch wrote:
> > But IF there are statistics that show that some peoples choices
> > actually ARE increasing the overall risk on public roads to people
> > other than themselves, then what could be the possible grounds
> > for either making or declining to make laws aimed at shifting the
> > hazard away from that class of road users who are being placed
> > at increased risk through no fault of their own?
> ...
> > I think there may be some folk that don't want any laws at all
> > even ones that were based on good statistics and sound public
> > policy - this seems irrational to me.
 > You are trying to address the symptoms and ignoring the cause.  The
> vast majority of all accidents are caused by people being careless
> and/or stupid.

I am not championing ignorance, carelessness or stupidity. I am
on the contrary recognizing that there are other species of these.

>The choice of vehicle may affect the damage pattern,
> but it wasn't the choice of vehicle that caused the damage to happen.
> You can take away the person's SUV and give them a Prius and you won't
> be stopping any accidents, you'll just have a different kind of carnage
> with a different distribution.

Your still missing my point (perhaps I wasn't clear) the existence of
good statistics, good data, is something that intelligent but not stupid
people will take account of. It is one difference between scientific and
anecdotal evidence. And the willingness to integrate scientific rather than
anecdotal evidence into our thinking and to try to form policy based on
it and to use it to pursuade others to base their policy on it is the
opposite of stupid.

> There are many different dimensions to the problem, which you still
> haven't figured out.  If all vehicles on the road were identical, it
> would more evenly distribute the carnage, something you apparently
> champion.

No. I "champion" looking to see if  the amount of carnage (however it is
defined) can be REDUCED rather than distributed. If it can't be reduced
then I am all for distributing it away from me personally (that is selfish)
and towards the damn fools that are causing the dangers to others (that is
my selfish public policy I would prefer to actively discriminate against
stupidity rather than let the chips fall where they may).  I think not
at the statistical data (if there is data available) is another species of
It seems like you are missing that point.

>If you maximized the utility of a vehicle for a given
> person, you would expect a widely varying range of vehicles on the road
> even if you leave personal taste out of the picture, and suboptimal
> utility is often unsafe as you get closer to the edges.  Most drivers
> only have competence at driving specific types of vehicles, and in a
> significant number of cases, no vehicles.  The typical road hazards a
> person faces and their probabilities varies widely from locale to
> locale.  Vehicle cost is another major factor, since increased safety
> comes at increasing cost and diminishing returns.
> What you want to do is optimize the entire driving world to maximize
> YOUR utility to the detriment of everyone else.

Of COURSE I'd want that. Wouldn't you? And of course neither of us
will get what we want. We'd be but two views only. But that is merely
the starting point for a deeper recognition. If I want to optimise for me
and you want to optimise for you and so on ... then so long as we are
all rational none of us will object to getting rid of inefficencies and
that we've been inadvertly posing to each other at no net gain to

Bugger the oxes will get gored anyway stuff. Neither of us are driving
teams of oxen. The sentiment it expresses as well as the content of
the analogy is out of date, or should be.

>  For a big portion of  the world, whatever you want to drive is less
> safe, less useful, and more expensive overall.
> In short, you are being authoritarian and selfish.  Selfish is okay,
> but you can cram the authoritarian part.

I'd agree with that sentiment but you are misdirecting it :-)

> I'm not going to sacrifice substantial safety and utility in my life so
> you can have an extremely marginal increase in your safety when you
> choose to drive on the roads just because it makes you feel better.
> The universe doesn't revolve around your desires.

Obviously. Nor yours. Just as obviously. But with intelligence and a
willingness to look at data we can reduce net risks without offsetting
loss of other goods.  I'm arguing for better risk MANAGEMENT
by more involvement in public policy and law-making by those that
are intelligent and self interested. Coz if they don't get involved the
laws will be made by the unintelligently self interested.

How would I tell which you were? I'd  tell in part by seeing if you
could differentiate between anecdotal evidence and good statistics.

I think we are talking past each other ;-)

Brett Paatsch

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