In the Instant: Guns and the Irrational Perception of Risk: via HuffPost

In the Instant: Guns and the Irrational Perception of Risk: via HuffPost http://huff.to/V5nTVH Some sicko did an experiment years ago with shocking mice. They would pair up mice in adjoining cages and deliver shocks that could be shut off by ony one mouse in each pair by pushing a lever. So each mouse was getting the same number and intensity of shocks as the paired mouse. The experiment found that the mice that had no control over the shocks were far more neurotic in behavior. So in at least some critters just the idea of control seems to provide solace even if it actually doesn’t change anything. You see the same kind of thing all the time infecting human behavior. Sometimes, as with some religious activity, it may have a mental health benefit even if nothing else changes. Other times the need to feel empowered is dangerous, as with keeping guns around as well as less common mistakes. One classic is rescuers with mine or building collapses. Statistically you lose more rescuers than save victims. So more often than not the decision with the best net utility may be to just toast the fallen and move on. That’s not callous. Getting four people killed to try and save two people is callous. The Hollywood in us will get the inner voice going that if our heart is in the right place everything will work out in the end. Of course hollywood skews the stats so it looks like having certain motivations protects us from harm. One of the better stats is in entertainment, 75% of CPR attempts are successful. In real life, under ideal conditions with a cardiac arrest in a hospital and witnessed with staff and equipment right there, the success rate is 25%. In the field, it’s more like 5%. With an unwitnessed heart attack the odds of coming back with any quality of life are so vanishingly small that in many hospitals they’ll just call it as soon as they hear it was unwitnessed. The stats are less clear for other activities but how often do the heros fail in what should be long shot attempts at heroism? So I think the media distort perception of risk. They could help undo that. How about a movie about someone who gets badly mugged or shot or otherwise molested who then gets a gun and keeps it around. Then relatives come over and a four year old shoots himself. Think “Terms of Endearment” with guns. Do to guns what Terms of Endearment did to breast cancer. There was a less dramatic but still nasty incident not long after Newtown where a young child shot himself dead when visiting with an uncle was a police officer. That got me wondering, I wonder how many people rationalize they don’t have kids so they don’t need to secure their guns. But can they be sure a kid will never set foot in their house? There are two ways to hit the gun mystique. One is to find some other form of empowerment. Another is to emasculate the gun image. I like the emasculation concept better because most people with a gun fetish are insecure losers. It can hit home because it is true. Worse, it will aggravate their loserdom by making them more weird. Replacement is difficult but not impossible. Tasers are the most obvious choice for replacement because they can be equally effective at taking out a bad guy in most situations without the risk that you take out a baby in a stroller behind him.

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