Sunday, April 3, 2011

Fear, Rationality and Risk

Mark Davis writes about Fear, Rationality and Risk

"The difference between fear and danger is psychological. It is like the difference between perception and reality. Perceiving that the potential worst case scenario is what should be dealt with as if it were reality leads to a tremendous waste of resources at a time when resources are scarce. Proximity, as you clearly point out in your posts Mike, to the real problem certainly alters the calculus of any risk management decision. In the end, "better safe than sorry" is a luxury that depends on your available resources, but honorable people will also weigh their responsibilities. The rich guy managers abandoning ship are wussies. Like you said: go ahead and send your families away, but consider those you serve (Japanese people) and employ.

I find it funny how people will freak out about doses of radiation that are far less than what the scanners at the airport give you; and that these same people say nothing about the scanners. So getting on a plane to avoid radiation is self-defeating. Fear and danger, indeed. - 

Many people don't consider how to respond to danger or manage risk until they are faced with the "unimaginable". Here is a primer for those not familiar with risk management basics. It is better for people to make calm, rational decisions based on facts instead of emotional, knee-jerk reactions based on fear of the unknown. In risk management jargon, there are three ways to deal with risk: avoid, assume or transfer it. Before you decide which way to go, first you need to know:

1) What could happen (threat event)?
2) If it happened, how bad could it be (threat impact)?
3) How often could it happen (threat frequency)?
4) How certain are the answers to the first three questions (recognition of uncertainty)?

1) What can be done (risk mitigation)?
2) How much will it cost (over a time period)?
3) Is it cost effective (cost-benefit analysis)?

I hope this will help ease some anxiety and/or anger by offering a rational means of dealing with danger for those consumed with an irrational fear of uncertainty. Note that we must all assume some risk in life."

Mark Davis is a husband, father and real estate analyst/investor enjoying the freedoms in Longwood, Florida.


Matt at Anarchy Japan said...

Indeed, if you trust TEPCO and NISA, and feel they have been completely upfront, and have only your best interest at heart, why worry. Everything is completely under control.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the government, Tepco, et. al have not been totally up front about everything and the situation is much worse than what we've been told:

You really should stop judging people who decided to leave. It reflects very poorly on you as a human being.

mike in tokyo rogers said...

Sorry, Anonymous. No, you are wrong. Point is that people who panicked and fled did so when the level of the disaster was 4 (March 14th). It was raised to 5 that day. Now, perhaps, if people want to leave, it is understandable.
What apologists like you need to get into your head is that the people who panicked and fled left their friends, neighbors, and coworkers hanging (those friends, neighbors and coworkers have families and children too). It is sick and irresponsible for those who ran away and left others to stay - while ordering them to continue working - as many foreign company executives did.
Once again, I am just reporting what the Japanese are thinking. Since you have written this apologists, irresponsible nonsense again, I might consider posting more about what the Japanese are saying - it's not pretty.
People who left and/sent their families away while taking care of their responsibilities here are not and have not been criticized. Those who panicked and fled - while taking paid leave from work - while expecting the Japanese staff to stay on and work as if nothing ever happened are the ones who - quite deservedly so - need to be - and will continue to be - heavily criticized.
If criticizing people for being irresponsible and poor leaders while abandoning their friends, neighbors and coworkers in their time of need reflects poorly on me, then I'll take it.
You, Anonymous, my friend, are one sick individual.

mike in tokyo rogers said...

PS: The criticism is also reserved for those who live over 150 miles away from the disaster zone... A level 7 disaster is still requires a 30 kilometer (18 mile) evacuation area according to IAEA rules.... Tokyo is 150 miles away. Other chicken-little Flyjin and apologists (like you, Anon) evacuated Nagoya too. Nagoya is 680 kilometers (about 400 miles) from Fukushima. You call that reasonable? Or, if you don't you see that your logic is subjective and not objective.... But then again, that's OK. You and other apologists thinking are based on fear and not science.

Anonymous said...

Whoa, easy now. Fine, agree to disagree. I wouldn't want to work or befriend any Japanese person who would be so judgmental anyways.

My problem with your columns is that you are focused on criticizing foreigners who left. What about the Japanese? I know at least twenty Japanese who got out of Tokyo during that week and there must have been tens of thousands more. My point then is why blame foreigners? Why regurgitate this racist, derogatory word when those who left were Japanese as well as foreign? Me thinks you yourself are a product of media sensationalism, missing the forest for the trees.

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