Individuals make bad decisions based on a faulty assessment of risks all the time. Policy makers are human beings too, and subject to the same irrational fears that make them overreact to certain risks that aren't that serious, and under-react to other risks that require serious attention.
The problem is that when politicians make poor decisions based on their faulty assessment of risks, the consequences are all the more profound and potentially damaging to all of us.
In today's lesson, Ethan Nadelmann looks at drug policy as a case in point.
Nadelmann describes the War on Drugs as an example of the risk perception gap becoming a risk in and of itself. Policy has been driven by irrational fears, Nadelmann argues, not by an objective assessment of the real dangers inherent with certain drugs.