Episteme

Mike's random thoughts and ramblings

Bike Helmets and Risk

A friend of mine was telling me about an interesting study done in the UK on bike helmets. (Thanks John!)

Basically, the study found that when a bike rider is wearing a bike helmet, motorists pass them more closely than when the bike rider is helmetless. This goes along with the results of a study I remember from hockey in the old days - that players wearing visors get hit in the face with sticks more often.

Basically, it suggests that the amount of protection that someone has against risk actually increases the number of times that a risk is actualized. It's like suggesting that preparing for an emergency actually increases your "Murphy factor".

What I find most interesting is that this is not a conscious phenomenon - these drivers were generally unlikely to be making a conscious judgement about how close to drive to the cyclist. This happens at an unconscious level.

This made me wonder where this happens in the internet security realm. For example, has the proliferation of decent anti-virus software actually increased the number of viruses that are out in the world? Or perhaps firewalls have increased the number of attackers?

It's an interesting phenomenon, to say the least... anybody else have interesting manifestations of the phenomenon out there in the world?

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Michael Murray

Michael Murray