Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chicken Little be damned!

Question: What do the free range movement and the oiled Gulf of Mexico have in common?

Answer: They both provide good examples of HOW BAD alarmist-minded people are at evaluating risk.

- One child out of 1,000,000 gets snatched by a stranger, and people become downright reclusive for fear of this happening to them.

- One oil well out of 3,600 blows out, and the federal government wants to shut down an entire section of the nation so that we can be forced into industrial reclusion to go with the personal reclusion that the anti-free-rangers wish we'd just shut up and observe (nothing like broad consistency, eh?).

Fortunately in the case of the Gulf, a guy named Martin Feldman has seen through it (bold emphasis mine): "A federal judge struck down the Obama administration's six-month ban on deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, saying the government rashly concluded that because one rig failed, the others are in immediate danger, too."

Regardless of how one feels about how the Gulf situation is being managed, this is an excellent social, legal, and philosophical precedent. It means that people and institutions who simply seize upon demonstrably-rare events as a platform for shouting "THE SKY IS FALLING!" are NOT granted automatic standing.


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