What level of risk will we choose to accept and how do we come to accept it? Is that choice rational or irrational? How do organizations plan for worst case scenarios and to what extent are those plans works of fiction? Dr. Lee Clarke, a professor of sociology at Rutgers University, discusses his research on risk, organizations, disaster plans, and elite panic in connection with COVID-19. Dr. Lee talks about “worst case” events like Hurricane Katrina or COVID-19 and how they stretch the imagination of those witnessing them. He also talks about the difference between “probabilistic” and “possibilitistic” thinking and how these categories help us understand seemingly irrational choices. He also discusses how disaster plans and models are “fantasy” documents, and discusses the dangers of early COVID-19 models being inaccurate. Dr. Lee also discusses the inherent interdisciplinary nature of disaster research and the problems COVID-19 will pose to doing further disaster research. For further reading: Normal Accidents Mission Improbable: Using Fantasy Documents to Tame Disaster Worst Cases: Terror and Catastrophe in the Popular Imagination “Elites and Panic: More to Fear than Fear Itself” “Fukushima, Risk, and Probability: Expect the Unexpected”
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