What It Means When Reporters Tell Us Miami Is Drowning
A new study suggests that news reports of extreme weather build a dangerous tolerance for risk-taking.
Hal Wanless, a geologist at the University of Miami, told Elizabeth Kolbert that Miami Beach has less than 50 years left till it's taken by the sea.
However, reports of Miami Beach's flooding may not stop people from setting up shop there. A recent study published in Nature: Climate Change demonstrates that the manner in which strange weather events are presented by the media greatly affects people's reactions to living in an at-risk area, though not in the way you might expect.
"A common response is to assume that more information is better, and that providing summaries of risk levels will lead people to reduce their exposure to relevant risks," researcher Ben Newell writes in a release about the work. "Data from field studies on non-climate-related disasters, however, point to the opposite effect."
The researchers write that the “‘news reports’ of disaster occurrences can increase the tolerance for risk-taking (which implies that rare events are underweighted).” Reports of these events need to be given the weight that they deserve by informing the public of the bigger picture, telling audiences how often these events will occur in the future.
Discourse relating to climate change can often be misleading. It's easy to manipulate data to look harmless — to treat these weather anomalies like, well, anomalies.
— National Review (@NRO) December 14, 2015
Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.
- Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
- At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
- Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?
- Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
- The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
- If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
They didn't know it, but the rituals of Iron Age Scandinavians turned their iron into steel.
- Iron Age Scandinavians only had access to poor quality iron, which put them at a tactical disadvantage against their neighbors.
- To strengthen their swords, smiths used the bones of their dead ancestors and animals, hoping to transfer the spirit into their blades.
- They couldn't have known that in so doing, they actually were forging a rudimentary form of steel.
Michael Dowling, Northwell Health's CEO, believes we're entering the age of smart medicine.
- The United States health care system has much room for improvement, and big tech may be laying the foundation for those improvements.
- Technological progress in medicine is coming from two fronts: medical technology and information technology.
- As information technology develops, patients will become active participants in their health care, and value-based care may become a reality.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.