As creatures, we are very poor at assessing risk. This knowledge was reinforced by what I learned in the Open University module DD210 Living psychology: from the everyday to the extraordinary. I suspect that is one of the reasons we allow wars to happen.
On the same theme The Ostrich Paradox: Why We Underprepare for Disasters by Robert Meyer and Howard Kunreuther may be a relevant and useful read. It looks as though they consider why we allow things to happen. They highlight six behaviours:
- Amnesia bias: only focussing on recent experience so we forget the experience of past wars.
- Optimism bias: we are optimistic by nature and although know wars happen, believe wars will not happen to us.
- Single action bias: it is enough to make one small act of protest thinking that will be enough to protect us.
- Myopia: only considering the short term, that war won’t happen soon so it will never happen.
- Inertia: it is too hard to face the problem and tackle it, when it might not even happen, thereby allowing it to happen.
- Herding: doing what we perceive everyone else to do, which is nothing, so nobody does anything.
But that list does not tell us what to do about them; perhaps the rest of their book does.