Risk-Free? No Such Thing.


‘There is no such thing as a risk-free world’

Excellent interview. Some excerpts:

There are sections of the public health and scientific community that have become infected with the general level of fear and anxiety in the population. You see that very clearly in the recent open letter signed by teaching unions and various behavioral scientists – more or less a coalition of the anxious – demanding that face masks be mandatory in schools until at least 21 June. These people are looking for a risk-free world. Anybody who understands the nature of risk knows that there is no such thing. The eradication of risk comes at unacceptable social and economic costs wherever you try to do it.

The propagation of fear is visible not just in advertising but also in the constant reiteration of certain symbols. You will find public health specialists say that they know masks don’t achieve very much, but they do remind people that there’s a pandemic going on. They address the question of how to keep people in a constant state of fear. 

Democracy is messy, it’s uncontrolled, it can be disruptive. But all of those things are actually really important for a good society. It’s out of the messiness that creativity and change and innovation come. We are erring too far towards elitist control, which is what edges us closer to the Chinese model of the party and the party scientists decreeing what a good life for citizens is and devising systems and structures to enforce it. That should concern us.

One thought on “Risk-Free? No Such Thing.

  1. From the commencement address at Purdue University by its president Mitch Daniels:

    “As school started again at her campus, the provost of the University of Kansas sent a message to her students and colleagues that is relevant far beyond the present day or the recent pandemic. “In times of high anxiety,” she wrote, “it is human nature to crave certainty for the safety it provides. The problem with craving certainty is that it is a false hope; it is a craving that can never fully be met.”

    “She quoted the astronomer Carl Sagan: “The history of science teaches us that the most we can hope for is successive improvement in our understanding, learning from our mistakes … with the proviso that absolute certainty will always elude us.”

    “Maybe the great historian Jacques Barzun summed it up best: “The last degree of caution is cowardice.”

    “Certainty is an illusion. Perfect safety is a mirage. Zero is always unattainable, except in the case of absolute zero where, as you remember, all motion and life itself stop.”

    Like

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