We Worry Most About What We Cannot Control
(p. D7) Studies have compared Americans' perceived ranking of dangers with the rankings of real dangers, measured either by actual accident figures or by estimated numbers of averted accidents. It turns out that we exaggerate the risks of events that are beyond our control, that cause many deaths at once or that kill in spectacular ways -- crazy gunmen, terrorists, plane crashes, nuclear radiation, genetically modified crops. At the same time, we underestimate the risks of events that we can control ("That would never happen to me -- I'm careful") and of events that kill just one person in a mundane way.
For the full commentary, see:
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date January 28, 2013.)