Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Ben Shapiro: The End of Risk and the End of Civilization

 Human beings aren't great at assessing risk. 

In 1979, psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky posited a new branch of behavioral economics, which they titled prospect theory. One of their key findings was that human beings are naturally loss-averse -- we generally are willing to forego the probability of gains in order to minimize the chance of losses. Because of our loss aversion, human beings are also subject to what Kahneman and Tversky label the "planning fallacy": our self-serving bias toward believing that we are capable of planning for contingency more successfully than we are. As Kahneman writes, "Exaggerated optimism protects individuals and organizations from the paralyzing effects of loss aversion; loss aversion protects them from the follies of overconfident optimism." If we feel that we can solve problems, we might be more likely to take risks -- and if we feel that risks are a problem, we might be more cautious with our plans.

But what if the problem we are seeking to solve is (SET ITAL) risk itself? (END ITAL) What if our policymakers aren't concerned with counterbalancing loss aversion on behalf of more productive risk-taking? What if, instead, our policymakers lie to us, and tell us that risk is no longer necessary (SET ITAL) at all? (END ITAL)

This is the situation in which we currently find ourselves. As a society, we have become so addicted to the elimination of risk that we are willing to believe any politician who provides us a purported roadmap. A large percentage of the country believes in nearly religious fashion that all risk can be mitigated, so long as we grant the authorities and experts absolute power. We have been told that we need no longer face health risks, so long as we give the government power to mandate vaccines, mask our children and lock down our businesses -- even without solid evidence that such measures are effective. We have been told that we ought to delegate all of our economic policymaking to unelected centralized bureaucracies, which serve as the source of both our monetary and fiscal policy, and that this will insulate us against the possibility of financial difficulty. We have been told that individually planning for the future, which entails risk -- delayed gratification is always a risk -- should be foregone in favor of a cradle-to-grave government safety net. 

To mitigate risks to myself, the easiest measure is to create an authority that controls everyone. Risk itself is the enemy: someone else might undertake risks, and those risks might have indirect effects that harm me. Better to live in the warm embrace of control by experts than in the chaotic world of individual decision-makers.  

This is the road to authoritarianism.

A healthy civilization (SET ITAL) requires (END ITAL) risk-taking. Innovators are risk-takers. Disincentivizing that risk destroys innovation. Working is risk-taking. Disincentivizing that risk destroys work. Building for the future is risk-taking. Disincentivizing that risk destroys responsibility. The fundamental good of liberty lies in the incentivization of risk. As F.A. Hayek put it, "If there were omniscient men, if we could know not only all that affects the attainment of our present wishes but also our future wants and desires, there would be little case for liberty." But, Hayek points out, we are not omniscient; we do not know who will provide progress, or how. Progress requires risk; liberty ensures the ability to take risk. 

We thus have a choice before us between the false promise of individual enervation and endless paternalistic caretaking from centralized authority and the real and chaotic world of liberty and risk. Which option we choose will decide whether our civilization survives.

Ben Shapiro, 37, is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, host of "The Ben Shapiro Show," and editor-in-chief of DailyWire.com. He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers "How To Destroy America In Three Easy Steps," "The Right Side Of History," and "Bullies." To find out more about Ben Shapiro and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.



Anonymous said...

Ben Shapiro’s selective quoting of Kahneman and Teversky to support his position is pseudo-intellectual sloppy seconds. While I doubt many readers of this blog have read Kahneman’s various books, those that have will recognize that hijacking his work into Shapiro’s political whining is reason enough not to read Chicken Little Shapiro.

This country has some real challenges and poor leadership, but simplistic thinking and intellectual misappropriation don’t do those challenges any favors.

That'sMisterDeplorableToYou said...

Endless paternalistic caretaking from centralized authority . . .

"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."
― Samuel Adams

Anonymous said...

9:41 am

It’s the dawn of the day of professional trolls. Find someone who was a member of a certain group who is now against that same group and prop him up and let him scream.

Examples? Milo. He is / was gay but screamed out at gays. Muslims who now disavow Muslims - a reformationist type. Let the Muslim scream at Muslims. “Smart” guys like Ben who now spew venom at the very things that have him his credentials….

Here we have a highly educated person in Shapiro whose goal is not to educate but it’s to troll and “point out” what’s wrong and deadly. His aim is not to help anyone understand how to exist and be better….his aim is to create chaos. Watch him argue. He’s terrible at it and very angry.

What lies right underneath his surface is an angry bitter soul who yearns to watch others hate and simmer.

Truly sad so much time was put into this guy….he wasted lots and will only be known for inciting violence.

Anonymous said...

I can’t stand Ben Shapiro.
But I simply can’t get enough of his sister, Abigail Roth (née Shapiro)

Ditch Ben and add more Abigail. Just say you are adding more feminine content.

here is her youtube channel, Classically Abby.

Anonymous said...

10:07 : At least he believes in freedom to choose and truth. You will be begging for folks like him soon enough. Once your freedom is gone of course.

Postcards From Caracas said...

While I doubt many readers of this blog have read Kahneman’s various books, those that have will recognize that hijacking his work into Shapiro’s political whining is reason enough not to read Chicken Little Shapiro.

So you ostensibly have read Kahneman's "various books" and, yet, you still read Shapiro's column even though the supposed "hijacking" was "reason enough not to read" Shapiro.

There is no reason to take your advice to read or not read something or some author. You're just another anonymous nobody seeking only to silence the voices with whom you disagree.

Anonymous said...

10:07, A troll calling someone else a troll. That's rich.

Anonymous said...

One doesn't have to read Kahneman.

Shapiro is stating the obvious in a time when too many are blinded by partisan nonsense.

" The greater the risk, the greater the reward" and that there are " no risk free ventures" and older than I am.

There is merit in the observation that we, as a society now have unrealistic expectations of government and most everything and everyone. The symptoms is the nitpicking of imperfections in everything and everyone that has been fed by extremists in both parties.

Good decision making requires gathering as much reliable information as possible and weighing the gains vs the risks while attempting to be prepare for negative outcomes. Or the old SWOT...strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

A wise human knows what risks and negative outcomes they can tolerate.

But, no one can be prepared for the unforeseen.

Bad things happen to good people who have tried hard to " do it right".

Whoever told some of you that hard work and being moral make you immune to misfortune, lied. Whoever told you to be perfect and expect perfection, lied. Whoever told you "fair" was an expectation and not a goal, lied.

And, those who imagine they " did it all themselves" and never had good luck or support from others in their success are egomaniacs.

Anonymous said...

"The greater the risk the greater the reward"...why some people get a thrill out of playing russian roulette...or not getting vaccinated and/or taing precautions to ot get infected by covid?

Herman Cain Award winners often imagine " did it all themselves"...when in fact they had a lot of help from the rwnj covid deniers and antivaxxers!

Anonymous said...

2:33 : Science is a funny thing these days huh Einstein ? Seems it's only a cool tool used by the progressive media and libby turds. When someone unvaxxed but has the antibodies(science) uses it......

Anonymous said...

Shapiro is the second coming of the messiah…..wish folks would realize that and nail his ass to a piece of wood and stick him the desert.

Anonymous said...

Don’t forget the science around biological gender. That’s heresy to the cult of wokeness.

That'sMisterDeplorableToYou said...


There is no such thing as “biological gender”. SEX is biological. Gender is cultural. Despite what the Left would have you believe, the concepts of ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ are not interchangeable. Sex is male or female. Gender is masculine or feminine. You will not find the word “gender” in any biology book — unless it was edited post 2015.

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