Ebola: A Warning That We Need to Vaccinate Ourselves...From Excessive Fear.

October 6, 2014 5:49 PM

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The common definition of risk is 'the probability of an adverse outcome or event'...in other words, the chance of something bad happening; losing your life, your health, your home, your money. The problem is, when most of us wonder "what's the risk of...?" we focus too much on the probability part...the odds...the statistical chance of that bad thing happening. And the problem there is that while the odds may be calculable, "bad' is entirely subjective, a matter of how the outcome feels, not how likely it is.

As Paul Slovic, a pioneer in the research of the psychology of risk perception, has put it, "risk is a feeling". And the fear of Ebola is a perfect example. The news is full of dramatic stories about the outbreak in western Africa of this scary disease, the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history, and n...

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