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On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs

A good article on guns, the military and police, and gun issues in the U.S. and human nature.

One Response to "On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs"

  1. As I read through this article, I became progressively more and more frustrated. Yes, many people do not think about security and pubic safety and, sadly, there are real threats to society from crime and violence.

    What this parable of sheep, dogs and wolves is missing is an element of risk awareness and proportionality. It breaks the barnyard theme, but maybe we need to think of an actuary as well.

    As Bruce Schneirer has told us over and over and over again, security is a tradeoff. Risk reduction comes at a price and it is only reasonable to think about the cost-benefit calculations for security measures. Unfortunately for us as a species, our risk awareness evolved hundreds of thousands of years ago as we spread out across the savannah, when real (non-human) predators were the greatest risk to our security.

    A result of this is that we are, in general, overly fearful of rare and spectacular catastrophes. Airplane crashes are horrific and often result in large death tolls, so we tend to fear them more than driving, even though vastly more people die in car accidents. The number of people who die from terrorist strikes in the US is infintissemal compared to the number who die from heart disease.

    Yes, the warrior-author of the article will say that I'm being a wilfully ignorant sheep, unwilling to accept the reality of violence. While I agree that we need police and military forces for self-defense and public safety, we also need to be realistic about what these services cost and what benefit we are receiving for them. There is absolutely no doubt that diverting 90% of the TSAs budget into screening and early treatment for heart disease or cancer would save hundreds of thousands of lives.


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