Actual vs Perceived threats (aka People are Crazy)

Actual vs Perceived threats

Susanna Hertrich has an art / thesis project to artificially stimulate people’s threat perceptions (by giving them goosebumps, or making hairs stand on end) in response to actual threats, as opposed to perceived ones. It’s a topic that I’m unnaturally preoccupied with, since the most egregious examples of the disparity between the two seem to intrude on my life every day. My opinions about whether any given threat is real or illusiory seem to differ from almost everyone, but I’m going to stubbornly cling to the idea that everyone else is crazy. Take the entry on ‘terrorist attack’ as an example (see diagram.) Public reactions to the topic remind me of nothing so much as a stirred-up ants nest, a psychotic, ineffectual frenzy.

5 thoughts on “Actual vs Perceived threats (aka People are Crazy)

  1. I like the graph, I think it portrays a few ideas quite nicely, most noticeably the terrorist attack bubbles. However, I am curious as to the size of the bubbles in ‘Actual Hazard’ compared with one another. Is the image claiming that we are significantly more in danger of being hit by an asteroid than by a terrorist attack? I find that statistically hard to believe. I would also question the morality of comparing most of these with seomthing like cancer. While cancer is obviously the more common than any of these other incidents, I think its omni-presence dulls the perceived threat. Yeah, we know that cancer can and will kill most of us, but is there any point in worrying about it?

  2. Ben:
    I think its a statistical threat. If a large astroid does hit us the amount of casualties would far exceed all terrorist attacks combined. But as you say it may never happen or not happen in our life time.

    As for cancer. If you want to save human lifes you would do better in finding a cure for cancer then spending money on killing terrorists.

    We are all going to die some day, why worry about death at all? Life is fatal, why worry about any threat? It all depends on perspective.

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  4. Hey Ben,
    Yeah, good question. I suppose I’d kind of assumed that all the numbers were made up, to reflect the creator’s opinions on the matter, but now (or rather, last month) that you come to mention it, I suppose they could have sized the bubbles based on actual data. Newspaper column inches for percieved threat? Number of casualties times probability of occuring for actual threat? That would make sense to me, but I’m making this up.

  5. Pingback: De-Branding » Blog Archive » Image vs. Facts

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