Risk Calculus, Kids in a Suburban Shopping Mall Edition

Recently, researchers performed an experiment by asking two children to act as if they were lost in a shopping mall.  More than six hundred passerby refused to help them.  This caused all sorts of wailing and gnashing of teeth about how horrible and cold-hearted humans are; when it was pointed out that men have zero desire to be accused of child molestation (a reasonable result), the powers-that-be howled that we ought to risk our own well-being for others.  (Short version and links, here.)

That’s only a reasonable argument to people who cannot distinguish between fighting in WWII and playing Russian Roulette.

If two kids were standing on a street corner in a bad section of town at midnight, I might risk jail to make sure they are okay. But two safe, healthy, sane kids in a crowded suburban shopping mall?  Hell, no, I’m not going to have to call my dad from jail and ask him for bail money, a retainer for a lawyer (who isn’t me), and hey, while he’s at it, ask him if he can feed my cat while I’m in the hoosegow.

The hand-waivers and pearl-clutchers have not adequately explained why our well-being and the well-being of our families is of so little importance that it should be disposed of for the most trivial of concerns. We’re all willing to take risks for genuine danger to others, but that’s hardly the issue that was “tested” here.


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