One thing that has fascinates me is the different ways people assess risk based on a culmination of their background, upbringing, personality, level of available knowledge, etc.
Tonight I’m bunking with some friends at a house. I dozed off at around 11pm, and at 1am I woke up shocked to find a number of mosquito bites around my body. In a moment I was angry at how careless we had been to avoid getting mosquito bites. We left the door open and the mosquito netting had gaping holes in it.
My first thoughts were those of encountering dengue or malaria, and panicked thinking that these people may not have thought about it because they grew up in this environment and would likely have considerably higher immunity than me. I was a little relieved when I saw the distribution maps of dengue and malaria on Wikipedia showing low distribution in the Philippines.
Perhaps growing up in Singapore has taught me to be mosquito averse. I have no hard numbers, but I would probably have gotten < 1 bite a week on average. The amount of publicity that goes into education against leaving stagnant water reservoirs around probably adds a subconscious trickle of caution to my perception too.
Living in Vietnam, I see people who place themselves at risk everyday. Crazy traffic, poor safety, etc. Risks that a Singaporean would think twice about. I think it is hard to say who is right and who is wrong. After all, there is no perfect measure to assess these risks with. It boils down to a subjective judgement that people make in their daily lives. Some because they accept it as the status quo, some because they do not have any options.
One decision that I made recently is that I will make a conscious effort to minimize time spent on a motorbike in Saigon, especially crowded places. Am I being selfish or spoilt? My answer is a no. I am clear about my motives. Apart from some practical reasons like being able to get through traffic more easily (which can be managed by managing time), there is no obvious advantages of a motorbike. It is just what people are used to, and till people decide that they are not going to put up with the pollution anymore, they are not going to make a directed effort towards cars and/or EVs.
Though I have not read Take the Risk: Learning to Identify, Choose, and Live with Acceptable Risk, I anticipate and recommend it on the basis of other material by Ben Carson that I’ve read. Furthermore, as a pediatric neurosurgeon, I’m sure he will have some interesting perspectives on this issue. If you’re feeling generous, please consider getting me a copy from my Amazon.com wish list or other means :-)