The Real Story of Risk: Adventures in a Hazardous World

The Real Story of Risk: Adventures in a Hazardous World 2012, reviewed by .

When it comes to risk we know 2 things and only 2 things. The first factor is when people in your personal life share with you what they have done to prepare for some of the potential risks in life you will be more likely to follow their example. Say a neighbor invites you over to his home and shows you how he has secured his breakables and strapped his bookshelves to the wall. You take notice. It's monkey see, monkey do — you are more likely to go home and do the same things.

The second factor is providing dense preparedness information which is ongoing, nonstop, and relentless about getting prepared for the risks which might come your way. Why? If we stop people from thinking about being prepared, they stop preparing for certain risks. Seat belts might be one example.

Then there is the optimism bias. The belief bad things are going to happen to other people and not to us. Teenagers as a general group or category believe they are invulnerable. They take the optimism bias to an extreme. So if they feel this way then they may end up doing riskier things like driving after drinking too much.

Psychosocial numbing is a trait which occurs in our mind. When we respond to help or aid a single individual in need we are stirred to action. Conversely, we do not respond to genocide or large scale natural disasters because our feelings don't scale up. Our brain is not wired to respond in this way.

As more and more information emerges about the impact of social ostracism it seems there is a darker side leading up to aggression. For example, in school shooting, studies reveal kids cut off from the rest of the school lash out. Being social is an essential part of life and the results of being left out or ostracized can be great.

The first part of the book up to about chapter 4 took some time to digest. When I went back for my second reading of the book I read the introduction, then chapter 10 followed by chapters 5-9 and last of all the notes section of the book. It helped me understand the book's focus on risk better.

While I would not recommend the book. It did provide a different perspective on risk taking in my own life. So reading it twice or even once would not be a complete waste of time.