Monday, September 20, 2010

what really is dangerous.

In the New York Times "Week in Review", Lisa Belkin writes in "Keeping Kids Safe from the Wrong Dangers" about how parents assess the dangers that seem present in our lives, and that yet with all that knowledge (or maybe because of all that knowledge) we are unable to assess risk. We overreact to hypothetical risks, but don't even blink at every day very real risks.In her article she highlights the real risk of cars in many places. Some things to mull about:

There is an inherent hypocrisy in our attempts to control our odds — putting the organic veggies (there is no actual data proving that organic foods increase longevity) in the trunk of our car (researchers tell us there is “evidence” but not “proof” that car emissions accelerate heart disease), then checking our e-mail on our cellphone at the next red light (2,600 traffic deaths a year are caused by drivers using cellphones, according to a Harvard study).

If that doesn't seem to be enough, think about the leading causes of injury to children to age 18 according to the CDC:

  1. Car Accidents
  2. homicide (usually at the hands of someone they know --> this was quite surprising)
  3. child abuse
  4. suicide
  5. drowning

The top five things parents fear, I'll let you read the article but it seems that we spend too much time watching television.

The other quote about cars that stuck out was:

“The least safe thing you can do with your child, statistically, is drive them somewhere,” said Lenore Skenazy, author of “Free-Range Kids,” a manifesto preaching a return to the day when children were allowed to roam on their own. “Yet every time we put them in the car we don’t think, ‘Oh God, maybe I should take public transportation instead, because if something happened to my kid on the way to the orthodontist I could never forgive myself.’ ”

So this goes back to a basic question, are we rational or social rational? When I look back at history, the things we use to consider normal seem appalling. This is part of the job of "Mad Men" since there is a smugness in watching the show. The only question to ask is 50 years from now, who's going to be the smug one?


At 2:47 PM , Blogger ruchi said...

I enjoyed the article, but I was a little surprised that she did not concede the risk of a kid pedestrian being HIT by a car.

The way people drive in the burbs is downright dangerous. People just assume no one walks. I know that I've had several cars come very close to hitting me.


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