|Dr. Conca concludes that the public may not be the best judge of risk. If you ask someone what they are afraid of, they will say things like radiation, fluoridated water, or vaccinations, things that are generally not dangerous. We are only just beginning to realize that texting while driving is really a big problem, or that overuse of opioid medications are leading to a national epidemic of heroine deaths. And these two only because of a flood of advertisements and documentaries on the subjects.|
This is an important issue. Without understanding what real risks are, well-intentioned policies can backfire, and the real risks can go unaddressed. This is no better illustrated than in the present presidential campaign where unfounded fear and mis-information have played such a large role.
An obvious example is the fear of radiation and nuclear power. This fear has jeopardized our choices to address climate change, has hurt the nuclear industry, and caused us to unnecessarily spend billions of dollars protecting against radiation at levels that are quite safe.
Risk is definitely a thing of perception, not fact. If the media were any gauge, we should be afraid of cell phones, terrorists, microwaves and erectile dysfunction. Or we could look at mortality statistics for some of the activities we do perform and see what actually kills us.
Below is a list of deaths in the last five years from various activities ..
Activity Mortality Rate
Bad Drugs 950,000 (180 million receive medical care per/yr)
smoking 760,000 (43 million smokers)
alcohol-related 500,000 (60 million impacted)
automobile accidents 250,000 (190 million drivers)
murder 80,000 (including suicide)
food poisoning 25,000 (400+ billion meals per yr)
coal power 60,000 (32% of U.S. electricity)
terrorist attacks 32
nuclear power 1 (19% of U.S. Electricity)
Read on ..