Thursday, March 24, 2016

Elite opinion

It's very hard to reconcile the "you have more to fear from slipping in a bathtub than from terrorism" meme with the coverage of the horror experienced in Brussels and other places that have been hit. Perspective is always elusive but rhetoric and sloppy thinking are easy. Yet, Barack Obama invoked the same idea in his recent interview with Jeffrey Goldberg. Well and good to remind people that the greatest thing to fear is fear itself, but credibility matters too.

Everyone takes risks all the time. We have come to terms with (adjusted our actions to) the riskiness(es) we know. We have been in and out of bathtubs, autos, and airplanes and have accepted the plausibility of the low relative frequencies of mishap that have been reported to us. But this leaves out the impossible-to-assess risks of using airports or trains stations in Brussels -- and places unknown.

When enough people are put off by the tone and substance of elite opinion, they start looking around for other sources. We get the likes of the current crop of presidential contenders.