Wednesday, April 8, 2009


In what people know, one of those is how we perceive threat. News of course can increase the perception of threat or risk, hence the recent flubbed missile launch by North Korea. Back in 2006, eight-out-of-ten Americans saw North Korea as either an immediate or long-term threat to the U.S. About the same number see it that way in a recent survey.

All this despite North Korea's inability to feed its own people or get a missile's third stage to work properly. All this after a transparent pr campaign to convince it's own people that music is being piped from magical floating satellites in space, despite the fact North Korea can't actually seem to get a missile into space.

We're terrible at estimating risk, or threat. News stories create a top-of-the-head effect and we see the disease of the week or threat of the week as more likely to occur than it statistically is. Yeah, North Korea is nuts and is a threat, but I wonder now whether stories about the flubbed missile launch will reduce this perception. And whether that's a good idea.

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