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What's the harm in believing in 2012? Why should we work so hard to dispel this fear? Shouldn't we leave these people alone? The answer is "No!", because this irrational fear can lead to tragedy! Disagree? Read on.....The website What’s the Harm has a list of 368,379 people killed, 306,096 injured and over $2,815,931,000 in economic damages that have occurred from people believing in various pseudo-scientific ideas. Many of these are anecdotal, but there is an entire section devoted to cases backed by scientific studies and data. The site has a section titled What’s the harm in fearing the apocalypse?, showing 1,810 people who were harmed, most of them killed, because of their fear of the apocalypse. In addition, the section links to A Brief History of the Apocalypse which details many apocalyptic predictions going back thousands of years.
Originally posted by serbsta
Oh dear... you're speaking with reason. Prepare to be labeled a dis info agent who is working for the government and NASA by trying to deceive people and suppress the 'truth' about 2012.
We know what we are talking about. This site is written and maintained primarily by amateur and professional astronomers, with input from various other scientists including geologists, archaeologists, and chemists.
We know where all of the big dangerous Earth-crossing objects are or will be for the next 10 years or so. If there were a large rogue or long period object that was going to approach us in 2012, we would be able to see it by now, and we would be able to see its effects on the outer planets by now.
Risk assessment is now a common feature of regulatory practice, but fear assessment is not. In particular, environmental, health and safety agencies such as EPA, FDA, OSHA, NHTSA, and CPSC, commonly count death, illness and injury as costs for purposes of cost-benefit analysis, but almost never incorporate fear, anxiety or other welfare-reducing mental states into the analysis. This is puzzling, since fear and anxiety are welfare setbacks, and since the very hazards regulated by these agencies - air or water pollutants, toxic waste dumps, food additives and contaminants, workplace toxins and safety threats, automobiles, dangerous consumer products, radiation, and so on - are often the focus of popular fears. Even more puzzling is the virtual absence of economics scholarship on the pricing of fear and anxiety, by contrast with the vast literature in environmental economics on pricing other intangible benefits such as the existence of species, wilderness preservation, the enjoyment of hunters and fishermen, and good visibility, and the large literature in health economics on pricing health states.
This Article makes the case for fear assessment, and explains in detail how fear and anxiety should be quantified and monetized as part of a formal, regulatory cost-benefit analysis. I propose, concretely, that the methodology currently used to quantify and monetize light physical morbidities, such as headaches, coughs, sneezes, nausea, or shortness of breath, should be extended to fear. The change in total fear-days resulting from regulatory intervention to remove or mitigate some hazard - like the change in total headache-days, cough-days, etc. - should be predicted and then monetized at a standard dollar cost per fear-day determined using contingent-valuation interviews.
Part I of the Article rebuts various objections to fear assessment. Deliberation costs are a worry, but this is not unique to fear, and can be handled through threshold rules specifying when the expected benefits of fear assessment appear to outweigh the incremental deliberation costs of quantifying and monetizing fear. Other objections reduce to the deliberation-cost objection, or are misconceived: irrational as well as rational fears are real harms for those who experience them; fear can be quantified; worries about uncertainty and causality reduce to deliberation costs; the possibility of reducing fear through information rather than prescription means that agencies should look at a wider range of policy options, not that they should evaluate options without considering fear costs; the concern that the very practice of fear assessment will on balance, increase fear by creating stronger incentives for fear entrepreneurs seems overblown; and fear is a welfare setback, whether or not it flows from political views.