2005-07-09

We did not waver then, we shall not flinch now...

Bombs in London, about 50 dead, which is sad. And we don't yet know who did it.

The main reaction seems to be "we are bloody but unbowed; we shall not let this affect our way of life". Comparisons to the Blitz and so on (my title is taken from, I think, Betty Boothroyd on the 10 o'clock news). All very splendid and stiff upper lip. But probably it *will* affect our way of life, because the govt will use it as an excuse for yet more law.

But... what I actually wanted to say is, I agree it won't much affect peoples everyday life, but for a very different reason, and the reason is, it doesn't much affect anyones chance of dying.

London has (population+commuters) about 7M people; with an average life expectancy of 70 years, 100K will die each year, or about 300 each day. So I think most people are capable of doing a very rough calculation (not a formal calc, but probably more intuitive) and deduce that the added risk from bombs is low. Which is why most people will go back to using the tube when it reopens, and travelling to work as normal. Its why, when I go to a meeting at Reading from Cambridge on monday, I'll be going on the train via London and underground (if its open). I won't be driving direct from Cambridge to Reading, both because it would be too inconvenient, and because the risk (from car accidents) would be much higher.

OTOH, suppose the risk from bombing were to significantly impact the risk-of-dying: say increase it by 10%. If we had a bomb every day killing 30 people, I don't think we'd be seeing quite so much of this bloody-but-unbowed stuff. And it certainly would affect our way of life, because they would have to permanently shut the tube, and that would cause chaos.

1 Comments:

Blogger James Annan said...

I disagree, cos it's clear that people are appallingly bad at doing comparative risk assessments (compare attitudes to train, road and plane deaths, for example).

Was funny to see Clarke saying that ID cards would have had no effect, but he wants them anyway, cos it will make it easier to stop events like this happening. Erm...

1:29 am  

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