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Anders comments on Blue or Green on Regulation? - Less Wrong

54 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 15 March 2007 06:04PM

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Comment author: Anders 15 March 2007 09:36:21PM 3 points [-]

Bruce Schneier discusses "CYA Security" in his latest Crypto-gram: http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-0703.html#1 Much of the security reactions that occur are less aimed at achieving safety and more with ensuring that the agency cannot be criticised for not having done its job, even when the reactions are irrational and counterproductive. I guess this is part of the "poor incentives" term of Robins equation.

Security is perhaps one of the most clearcut forms of paternalism, where certain groups are expected to act to protect everyone. It also seems to be more vulnerable to overreactions like above than other forms of paternalism. Perhaps this is because of the larger power distance between the security people and the protected. The former have been given monopolies of coercive power, which means that they are scrutinized more heavily both internally and externally. There is also a psychological effect of power bias and separation from the "civilians" that means that they are less likely to accept disconfirming external information. Finally security problems often involve malign agency, which is something we humans understand in a very different way than other risks.

The health care paternalist who fails to detect and stop a health problem until some deaths occur can usually get away with it by imposing after-the-fact regulations.

I guess this line of reasoning would imply that we should expect paternalism in areas where the "outrage" aspect of risk is higher to be biased towards overreaction.