There’s a couple of good things worth highlighting in the latest Brit Blog Round up over at Calablamat’s place… One, Paul Sagar’s piece asking why when the subject of teenage mothers comes up does the issue of teenage fathers never rear its compromising head… And Chris Dillow on why people fear whatever is new… He uses the widespread fear of Mephedrone, after two young men died after taking the plant food as a so called ‘legal high’ drug. Chris wonders if this kind of trigger response is part of a risk averse bias which in general terms militates against innovation…
This Frankenstein syndrome is closely related to several other cognitive biases (bias is, I think the right word rather than error).
One is ambiguity aversion; we fear unknown unknowns, such as new drugs, more than risky knowns such as alcohol. Others are loss aversion and the status quo bias: we tolerate existing certain evils much more than potential new ones.
The combined effect of these biases can be pernicious. They can lead to an unwarranted hostility to innovation – how many people have been killed by Frankenstein foods? – an excessive illiberalism** and, perhaps, to undue opposition to radical new policies in general.