We live in a dangerous world. Numerous hazards can strike us down from infectious diseases and genetic disorders to food poisoning and car crashes. Furthermore, the advances in information technology enable consumers to be more aware of these problems as the latest data on new hazards is spun around the world in a matter of seconds.
As part of the opinion forming sector (as a think tank researcher and opinion editorial writer) Roger Bate has contributed to this information exchange. His writing over the past five years, as reflected in this book, has focussed on 5 key themes:
1. Hazards are as likely to come from natural as from man-made substances.
2. The linear no-threshold hypothesis is rubbish (i.e. the dose makes the poison).
3. An entire industry has developed to scare us into stopping certain activities, or making us feel guilty for continuing them, or lobbying to have them banned by government.
4. The public are quite capable of making decisions that involve complex trade-offs if only we would let them; indeed not letting them causes enormous problems as government bodies do not have the dispersed knowledge to do this, and are subject to interest group pressure.
5. There are innumerable benefits, as well as costs, from risk taking.
Most articles concerning risk avoid mentioning any of the above five themes.
The articles for this book were originally published in the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Economic Affairs, and The Sunday Times. An introduction will draw all the articles together.