Why We're Wrong About Danger

We're scared of silly stuff—bugs, heights, airplanes—but we risk our lives by smoking, overeating and driving too fast. Studying how our brains misjudge risk can close the gap between fears and facts. 

Last march, as the world watched the nuclear meltdown unfold in the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, a curious thing began happening in West Coast pharmacies. Bottles of potassium iodide pills used to treat certain thyroid conditions were flying off the shelves, creating a run on an otherwise obscure nutritional supplement. Online, prices jumped from $10 a bottle to upwards of $200. Some California residents, unable to get the iodide pills, began bingeing on seaweed, which is kn...

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