Learned helplessness

As I was driving along a remote country lane this morning I was faced with an oncoming, huge, 4x4 (SUV to those on the other side of the pond) driven by a woman taking her kids to school and illegally using a mobile phone - all while swerving onto the WRONG (i.e. MY) side of the road for no apparent reason!

I wasn't going to post this story but was encouraged to do so by Dave Pollard's summary of an article by Malcolm Gladwell on people's fascination with SUV's.

Gladwell's main point is that we have succumbed to Learned Helplessness and that our perception of risk in the world at large is actually far greater than the real threats we face.

Dave sums it up:

The reality is that this delusion of danger, and the illusion that something can or has to be done, that someone -- British cows, Canadian farmers, Chinese cats, Firestone, Saddam Hussein -- must be brought to account in order to give us back control, is literally making us all crazy. It causes us to believe we cannot let children out of our sight even for a moment. It causes us to wildly change our diets, to avoid visiting whole countries, to fingerprint whole nations of visitors, to suspend civil liberties, to put barbed wire around our communities, to drink only bottled water, to wear masks, to introduce five levels of increasingly hysterical 'threat' to everyone's safety.