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The San Bernardino shootings: When fear overrides the reality of risk




Redlands Police stand on Center Street near Pine Avenue on Wednesday night, Dec. 2, 2015 as authorities serve a search warrant following a mass shooting inside the the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015.
Redlands Police stand on Center Street near Pine Avenue on Wednesday night, Dec. 2, 2015 as authorities serve a search warrant following a mass shooting inside the the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

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For some Angelenos, the proximity of the San Bernardino shootings fills them with fear that they too might be caught in a mass shooting.

However the true risk of that occurring is very, very low. Nonetheless, the fear persists. Shark bites (1 in 11.5 million according University of Florida Shark Attack File) and plane crashes (1 in 5 million and up to 11 million depending on source) freak people out too, despite numbers supporting that dying from those things won’t happen to you.

In other words, numbers show there is far more safety in this world than peril.

Why can fear rule over the reality of risk? Have the shootings made you feel more scared to live in LA?

Guest:

David Ropeik, author of "How Risky is it Really? Why our Fears don’t Match the Facts" and an instructor of risk perception and communication at Harvard