[ExI] The Avalanche Threat

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Fri Sep 14 07:50:21 UTC 2007

On 14/09/2007, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
> Stathis writes
> > On 14/09/2007, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
> >> Suppose that your neighbor (who's a perfect shot) manages to
> >> sting you on the arm or the back of your head with his BB gun
> >> once or twice a week.  I dare say that you'd be more concerned
> >> about that than you would be about dying in an automobile accident,
> >> even though the probability of dying in a car crash vastly outweighs
> >> the chance of dying from one of your neighbor's BB gun shots.
> >> Why?
> >> ...
> >> I maintain that there is a parallel here, and that we are designed to
> >> react to consciously executed premeditated threats far more than
> >> we are to equally dangerous natural phenomena, and for good
> >> reason.
> >
> > Why "for good reason"? It seems like a bad reason to me.
> Other human beings (or agencies, e.g. gods) who form evil intents
> toward an evolutionarily derived entity constitute malign entities
> from the point of view of their targets. A neighbor who shoots one
> with a BB gun a few times a week poses a grave threat:  today a
> BB gun, but who knows what tomorrow?  It *rightfully* worries
> one that such a dangerous lunatic is within striking distance.
> The same goes for other dangerous opponents.  One capable of
> committing an act of "terrorism" that deliberately kills thousands
> of people may ingeniously perform any any presently unknown act
> in the future. Avalanches, on the other hand, are threats the limit of
> whose behavior is easily understood and even avoided.

OK, but that just means you think avalanches are less dangerous than
terrorists. The problem is that even when it can be shown that a
non-malicious threat is more dangerous than a malicious threat, people
are more likely to respond to the malicious threat with concern and
allocation of resources. I can see how this way of thinking might have
evolved, but it doesn't make it rational.

Stathis Papaioannou

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