Hyperbolic Discounting

Consider America’s political response to these two recent challenges:

  1. Obama proposes moving some inmates from Guantánamo Bay. Outcry and outrage.
  2. Climate warms, ice sheets melt and seas rise. Most could care less.

Why are people incensed about flag burning or sex? We are not equipped to assess risk.

We Americans spend nearly $700 billion a year on the military and less than $3 billion on the F.D.A., even though food-poisoning kills more Americans than foreign armies and terrorists.