Why Do White Men and Scientists Tend to Downplay the Risks of Technology?

Scientific American April 2020

The naive answer is that white men and scientists are coldly rational—but that’s not the whole story

Scientists often complain that people are irrational in their opposition to technologies such as nuclear power and genetically modified (GM) crops. From a statistical perspective, these are very safe, and so (it is argued) people’s fear can be explained only by emotion, undergirded by ignorance. Electricity from nuclear power has led to far fewer direct deaths than has coal-fired power, yet many people are afraid of it, and hardly anyone is afraid of coal plants. Similar arguments can be made about GM crops, which studies have shown are generally safe for most people to eat.

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