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Old January 12, 2009, 11:49 PM   #47
Join Date: February 12, 2001
Location: DFW Area
Posts: 19,385
I've always figured it wasn't the ODDS that mattered, so much as the STAKES.
It's both and more.

If the stakes are negligible then it doesn't make sense to spend a lot of time/money/effort preparing for that situation regardless of the odds.

But when the stakes are large then you have to weigh the odds, your ability to make a difference and the amount of time/effort/money you can/are willing to spend.

For example, the stakes of an airliner falling on my house are huge, but the odds are astronomically small. I could protect my house by encasing it in a concrete/steel dome like they use to protect nuclear reactors, but it would take a huge amount of time/effort/money.

Given the tiny odds and the tremendous difficulty in making a difference I choose not to prepare for this event even though the stakes are tremendous.

Now, let's say that tomorrow a device comes on the market that sells at any Wal-Mart for $2.99, that plugs into a standard outlet and emits a forcefield that repels all falling aircraft. Now the time/effort/money required to protect my house is virtually nil so I might spring for the $3 even though the odds and stakes haven't changed.

Let's say that I'm worried about an asteroid hitting my house. Now nothing I can do will make a difference so the odds & stakes don't matter a bit.

Ok, for a more practical example let's look at carrying a handgun.

The odds of having to use deadly force in self-defense are quite small, but the stakes are quite large. It's a situation where the statistics show it's very likely one can improve his chances of a successful outcome if he has a handgun available.

Scenario 1: I hate guns, am on a very limited income, am allergic to steel and live in a place where guns are difficult to purchase and impossible to carry. Conclusion? I don't want a handgun, don't have the money for one, would have a hard time buying one if I wanted, it would make me sick to touch it and I couldn't carry it no matter what. So regardless of the stakes, the odds and the fact that I COULD make a difference if I had a handgun I'm not going that direction. The time/effort/money/illegality required to make it happen render the solution infeasible. So instead I buy a squirt gun and fill it with lemon juice to spray in the attacker's eyes.

Scenario 2: I shoot handguns for competition, already have a concealed carry permit because it simplifies purchases and transporting firearms and I can buy the perfect carry pistol & hoslter for less than my take-home pay from a single day of work. Now carrying a handgun looks very attractive although the stakes & odds haven't changed a bit.
Did you know that there is a TEXAS State Rifle Association?
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