Friday, September 14, 2007

Jason Zweig: Your money and your brain

Fear: What are you afraid of?

Here are two questions that might, at first, seem silly.

1 Which is riskier: a nuclear reactor or sunlight?

2 Which animal is responsible for the greatest number of human deaths in the U.S.? a) Alligator b) Deer c) Snake d) Bear e) Shark

Now let's look at the answers. The worst nuclear accident in history occurred when the reactor at Chernobyl, Ukraine melted down in 1986. Early estimates were that tens of thousands of people might be killed by radiation poisoning. By 2006, however, fewer than 100 had died. Meanwhile, nearly 8,000 Americans are killed every year by skin cancer, commonly caused by overexposure to the sun.

In the typical year, deer are responsible for roughly 130 human fatalities - seven times more than alligators, bears, sharks and snakes combined. Deer, of course, don't attack. Instead, they step in front of cars, causing deadly collisions.

None of this means that nuclear radiation is good for you or that rattlesnakes are harmless. What it does mean is that we are often most afraid of the least likely dangers and frequently not worried enough about the risks that have the greatest chances of coming home to roost.

Full Article

Source: BRKNews

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