Thinking, Fast and Slow
读书笔记 13. Availability, Emotion, and Risk
In his desire to wrest sole control of risk policy from experts, Slovic has challenged the foundation of their expertise: the idea that risk is objective.
“Risk” does not exist “out there,” independent of our minds and culture, waiting to be measured. Human beings have invented the concept of “risk” to help them understand and cope with the dangers and uncertainties of life. Although these dangers are real, there is no such thing as “real risk” or “objective risk.”
To illustrate his claim, Slovic lists nine ways of defining the mortality risk associated with the release of a toxic material into the air, ranging from “death per million people” to “death per million dollars of product produced.” His point is that the evaluation of the risk depends on the choice of a measure—with the obvious possibility that the choice may have been guided by a preference for one outcome or another. He goes on to conclude that “defining risk is thus an exercise in power.” You might not have guessed that one can get to such thorny policy issues from experimental studies of the psychology of judgment! However, policy is ultimately about people, what they want and what is best for them. Every policy question involves assumptions about human nature, in particular about the choices that people may make and the consequences of their choices for themselves and for society.
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