Flutterby™! : Valuing a life

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Valuing a life

2011-01-11 19:06:45.944239+00 by Dan Lyke 3 comments

In the news reports and ensuing forum comments about the Queensland Floods (If you want a "holy crap!" moment, take a look at the first picture on this BBC photo set) someone wrote "9 deaths, 4 of them children", and it got me to thinking, which is always dangerous.

In an infant, we have a risk factor for the mother, and the parents or some combination of parents and society have a few tens of thousands of dollars invested in bringing that creature forth from the womb.

In a 20 something, we, the parents and society, have invested at least, what, half a million bucks?

I wonder if it's another symptom of the human tendency to mischaracterize risk and miscalculate rewards that we tend to call out the potential more than the actual...

[ related topics: Children and growing up Interactive Drama Photography Current Events Monty Python California Culture Community ]

comments in descending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2011-01-12 18:21:31.918828+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah, I don't know that the amount of ink spilled over various different classes of lives is actually indicative of how much we value them, in fact I think the point of this post was to show one way that they're very disjoint.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-01-12 14:31:43.987471+00 by: Medley

I don't agree at all that the emphasis on pointing out children who are hurt or killed (or in some cases 'women and children') is some reflection of how much children (and women) are valued in society. In U.S. society I'd argue instead that children (and women) are in fact not actually valued that much at all. It's just an emotional appeal to the hindbrain (in the case of children) and to chivalry (or misogyny, take your pick) on the part of the writer. A newswriter's trope.

On the other hand, there is a clear miscalculation about potential and actual that happens - seen perhaps most extremely in those who would insist that both mother and fetus die before allowing an abortion to take place. Or perhaps that simply does reflect the value such people place on women. Negative.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-01-12 13:15:21.551729+00 by: andylyke

On flash floods - remember Indian Garden in 1984!

On potential v actual - Those are sunk costs you're quoting. In a sense, "we" tend to make our investment decisions the same way. A company's value is the present value of its future earnings. It matters not how much I spent in building it, but rather what I can fool you into believing about its future earnings. see tulips, internet business, South Sea Company, Houses, ...