There’s a fun little article in the Harvard Magazine on risk perception. David Ropeik and George Gray at the Harvard School of Public Health wrote a book Risk: A Practical Guide for Deciding What’s Really Safe and What’s Really Dangerous in the World around You, which sounds interesting. The article also mentions a study by the University of Michigan transportation Research Institute comparing motor-vehicle deaths in October – December, 2001 (right after the September 11 attacks) to the same period in the previous year. (Click here for a previous post and comments on this topic.) The Michigan study concludes are that there were 1,018 more traffic deaths in late 2001 than in late 2000 — I haven’t read the study myself, so I’m just passing along what they report. (Is 1,018 large relative to the average number of traffic deaths and its variability? I don’t know.)
In a similar vein, I keep telling my mom how much more likely it must be that I’ll be hit by a car or by lightning than be bombed on the subway. I don’t think it makes her worry about me any less.