Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sports and Risk Perception

This is an astonishing example of public risk perception.  The public health advice is also shocking.

Soer, who was present when the study was done and is knowledgeable of the findings, gave some simple advice on how to avoid any danger.

"Wear earplugs to the games," she said. "Either buy them at a pharmacy or make them yourselves and take it with you to the soccer games.

make them yourself... ? And this comes from a medical doctor?
I don't know what Communication Pathology is.  I infer from their limited website it is infectious diseases.  One of study foci was transmission of disease by sharing horns, so I understand a pathologist being involved.  But she obviously isn't familiar with how ear plugs work.  Does she think a wad of cotton is going to help?  Or is there some common item South Africans use for this purpose?

With poor risk communication from professionals, it is unsurprising that individuals are not making optimum choices.

"I am not worried," said Matthew M'Crystal, a 24-year-old law student. "Anyway, it won't kill us."

The chronic excuse:  'it won't kill me'.  Well, one of these days, being a lawyer, he's going to decide to sue someone over his noise-induced hearing loss by claiming "But I didn't know it was bad for me!"

"I could have died in Mexico," said Ricardo Avila, a 56-year-old soccer fan visiting South Africa for the tournament. "So no, it does not bother me."

Here is a different problem with individual risk perception.  Even when you give a perfectly clear explanation of the risks of exposure, and the employee really does understand it ... her risk comparison may be standardized against something other than yours.

"You have a 1:100 probability of losing your hearing"
"Yes, but I live in the area of town with the highest crime rate, gang activity and there was a drive-by shooting on my block last night.  Losing my hearing isn't so bad."

There will be a few more posts about noise and the World Cup.

I think I might borrow a noise meter from the U's IH lab to see how loud it gets on Saturday during the Germany-Argentina game over at the Glockenspiel in StPl.  I'm considering playing hookey with my spouse on Friday to watch the Brazil-Netherlands game.  Maybe I can compare the two?  Get a publication?  lol

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