How Risky Can a Risk Get?

Ignorance is bliss. Only problem is what you don’t know can kill you, right?

There’s this analogy I like to use. Picture a table in a house, with three bottles on it, all of them filled with water.

The first is a dark brown glass bottle. (You know, like those types cough medicines used to come in.) It’s got a large label on the side, and written on it in big black letters is the word “POISON.”

The second bottle is plastic. You can tell it’s been in use for awhile, but it looks clean. There’s no label, though, just the plain bottle.

The third is a brand-name plastic water bottle (like Evian or Eva) with the label still on it. It looks new, the liquid is clear.

Did I say all three bottles contain water? Actually it’s…battery water. Ah. Not quite the same thing, now, is it? (Though I doubt you could tell just by looking.)

So, which is the most dangerous?

Easy, right? The first is clearly marked, so it’s probably the safest. (You’d have to be a child, illiterate or suicidal to actually drink it.) The second…maybe, maybe not. The last, however, is ultra-dangerous: anyone could easily mistake it for ordinary water.

The risks involved in whatever you do, no matter how dangerous, are much less when they are clearly spelt out. On the other hand, no danger is as dangerous as when safety is taken for granted. Just ask America before 9/11.

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4 thoughts on “How Risky Can a Risk Get?

  1. Insightful, wittily observed and subtly proffered. Risks … “much less when they are clearly spelt out”…a case for integrated risk analysis for all… Now where did I put that ‘risk’ label…?


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