Low probability/large negative magnitude

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Many people have an inability to accurately assess low probability/ negative magnitude events and account the effects of those events.

Until an accident of enough negative magnitude occurs, people go on with their illogical routines day in, day out.

I worked at a major money center bank for 8 years. I was shocked to find out that the way they reconciled transactions was just matching the bottom line of statements! This involved hundreds of millions of dollars each day. When I brought this up to the supervisor of that department, he said it was improbable that the individual transactions could be different if the bottom line matches. Also, he did not have the (wo)manpower to check each transaction individually! (Subsequent State and Fed Audits did not catch this flaw in procedure!!)

A potentially life/death example is crossing a one way street. In a accident free world, one would look only one way. However, in reality, most accidents occur from the direction that was not watched for oncoming autos. Although of low probability, the magnitude of an accident relative to the cost of prevention (looking both ways) should compel all to look both ways.

Then there are those who have fallen off a bike and swear never to ride one again! (Fallacy of heuristic reasoning?)

As for y2k, I am currently a 3 but preparing for a 7 or 8.

-- Sandwich (anon@anon.com), September 14, 1999


I've had several hang overs and always swore that I would never drink again. There's a 100% chance in the remaining time of my life that I will have another one. I think I'll start preparing for it.

-- bottoms up (bottomsup@bottomsupp.com), September 14, 1999.

But the prob of choosing to drink can be controlled. However, Uncontrollable events in general do occur with certainty given an infinite amount of time but since we live in a finite amount of time, the probability of these unwanted events can be decreased.

-- Sandwich (anon@anon.com), September 14, 1999.

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