Summarize the Short Essay "Why the Reckless Survive" by Melvin Konner

Topics: Risk, Cigarette, Nicotine Pages: 2 (532 words) Published: February 22, 2006
In the short essay Why the Reckless Survive by Melvin Konner. He gives an in-depth explanation of why people do reckless activities. His main point of thought is that people don't think clearly about risk. He explains that "The American public, after years of education, wears seat belts at the rate of 20 percent and has reduced its cigarette smoking only somewhat, "The widespread success of lotteries alone shows that people do not think or act rationally, even in their own self-interest." This leads us to ignore some risks and overestimate others. "People are willing to pay indirectly large sums of money to reduce the risk of a nuclear accident or a cancer death from a chemical to levels they consider acceptably low. But they will not pay a much smaller amount for air bags in automobiles, that, inflating on impact, will save many more lives; and they will not stop smoking, although, this risk-reducing measure would actually save money, both immediately and in the long term"

In making a decision on risk taking activities people usually have unrealistic expectations towards the outcome. In some way we feel that "risks beyond our control are more frightening than those we consider ourselves in charge of. So we drink and drive, and buckle the seat belt behind us, and light up another cigarette, on the strength of the illusion that to these risks at least we are invulnerable"

"Three patterns then emerge in our misestimates. First we prefer voluntary risks to involuntary ones. We feel we have some control over to those that we feel we don't. So we smoke cigarettes even thought it might kill us. While we fight and resent a company that used asbestos in a building. "Secondly we prefer familiar risks to strange ones. The homicide during a mugging, or the airliner hijacked in Athens, so loom much larger in our calculations than they should in terms of a real risk" Third, deaths that come in bunches are more frightening. "The jumbo jet crash...
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