[extropy-chat] Psychology of bad probability estimation

spike spike66 at comcast.net
Sun Jun 18 01:18:09 UTC 2006

> bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of Amara Graps
> This is important stuff -- it explains why we're socially willing to
> commit nigh-infinite social resources to fighting terrorism, though
> statistically, terrorist attacks almost never happen... Amara Graps, PhD 

The probability of being slain by a terrorist is extraordinarily small, yet
its social impact is enormous.  Consider for instance the dance we do every
time we get on a plane: we have our shoes examined.  One man spawned an
entire industry, without even successfully slaying a single infidel.  

Theoretical terrorism makes a compelling case for not investing in subways,
because they are *inherently* difficult to defend from a terrorist.  Since
tunnels trap heat, one could slay a bunch of infidels with a few dollars
worth of flammable liquid and a simple time delay igniter.  Since one need
not give one's identity to board a subway, one could get away with it
without even going to meet one's 73 virgins.  Looks to me like investments
in subways are a waste, now and henceforth forever.  Cities will develop
differently knowing that mass transit via subway is impractical.



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