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True Odds : How Risk Affects Your Everyday Life Paperback – February, 1996

4 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


The definition of risk has changed in modern society: with new indicators for risk assessment and management, it's important to understand modern definitions and comparisons of risk factors. Walsh's title discusses sixteen key issues which show how risk is measured, examining studies, media influences on risk presentation, and individual influences on risk factors. An important guide for understanding the latest statistics. -- Midwest Book Review

Product Details

  • Paperback: 401 pages
  • Publisher: Silver Lake Publishers; 1st edition (February 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1563431149
  • ISBN-13: 978-1563431142
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,801,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Enhanced with an extended bibliography and an exhaustive index, True Odds: How Risk Affects Your Everyday Life by James Walsh is a very straightforward and practical look of the real odds that threaten people's lives or health. Rejecting anecdotal evidence and media scare tactics for solid, statistical, reliable information on what really are the greatest threats facing life in the modern world, True Odds comes very highly recommended for the non-specialist general reader as being a realistic source of information concerning everything from crime and accident rates to having sufficient money saved upon retirement.
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Aims to discuss risks in everyday life at a level "between dense technical volumes
and daffy oversimplifications". Structured around 16 particular topics, from
concrete concerns of individuals (violent crime; cell phones and brain cancer; secondhand smoke) to more general topics (moral hazard of insurance; lotteries are a tax on the stupid). A main focus is on the interaction between scientific data, media reporting, legislation promoted by interest groups, and regulation by government agencies. By presenting these case studies from recent history (1975-1995), the author provides an insightful overview of the real-world interplay of the scientific, psychological and political aspects of dealing with risk. This book is implicitly a well-justified polemic in favor of rational quantatitive risk assessment and against the media scares, extremist environmental lawyers and inflexible "command and control" bureaucracy that waste billions of dollars whose diversion from more rational use causes unnecessary death and suffering.

Though serious, well researched and an engaging read, I do have some quibbles. The
lack of explicit citations makes it unhelpful as scholarship. By mixing several
styles (historical case studies, discussion of scientific methodology, polemic) the
book appears somewhat unfocused. And the unusual typography (a typical page has
seven two-sentence paragraphs separated by white space) reinforces the impression
that the author was assiduous in collecting information but put less effort into
organizing a coherent narrative. Finally, the subtitle is misleading: a reader
seeking a straightforward, detailed and explicit analysis of risks in everyday life
would be better served by Risk: A Practical Guide for Deciding What's Really Safe and What's Really Dangerous in the World Around You.
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This book is all about facing risks as individuals- which is fine, but it also makes sweeping political judgments based on the assesments. On the section about banning the use of Alar on apples and the politics behind it, he writes- "instead of NRC's estimated cancer risk of 1,462 deaths per million from pesticides on apples, the researchers found only 0.07 per million." Well, that may sound like decent odds for me when deciding to eat an apple, but is it really acceptable to for the unlucky person who does get cancer? The author points out several times that alar is not a pesticide, even while presenting numbers on the cancer risks of pesticides. Alar is a growth regulator,"so they are more colorful and crisp at harvest." I can understand the usefulness of some pesticides, but why should we accept ANY risks from a growth regulator? This isn't family values, or traditional values conservatism, but Dickensian, bean-counting, pure economic right-wing bias. I don't want bias from the left or right, or political interpretations, I just wanted straight facts. This book doesn't leave the findings to stand on their own. Are most popular books about risk assessment thinly disguised pro-corporate propaganda? I hope not.
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