« Freakonomics Radio

1. The Dangers of Safety (Rebroadcast)

2015-08-13 | 🔗
What do NASCAR drivers, Glenn Beck and the hit men of the NFL have in common?
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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it's your gang. You share things with them. You will never share with anyone again the terrible, terrible gigs where they threw bottles at you, the account no triumph the stories so weird that no went outside the bad would ever believe them? So you never tell them to anyone else and, of course, the music, especially the early stuff. You wrote when you thought you knew what you were doing but then, as the years go on, get a little bit better becomes obvious. He didn't know what you were doing, so you still listen to that early stuff. Sometimes come the way you look at pictures of yourself back and junior high. That really come on which can't stop listening and thinking. All these thoughts got me digging in the frequent mix radio archives. So I went back back back and I finally got the very first episode we ever put out early two thousand and ten. If so, it is called the Danes
safety and since its August, and we were looking to put out an episode from the archives, I thought why not? How much can we possibly hate it? Well, you, let us know, won't you everything in this episode with up to date at the time, but now a lot of it isn't I'll. Give you some specific Slater. What comes to mind risk wise when I say the following things: shark attacks, the biggest joke of all time,
terrorist attacks, the biggest waste of time ever. This is friggin onyx radio, a new podcast about the hidden side of everything. In this episode, what do NASCAR drivers, Glenn back and a hit men of the Anna fell having common here's, your host Stephen document about the risk of a just something off Everybody does everyday driving your car incredibly low that if, if nothing were to kill you except drive your car, oh you did was drive your car day and night day by day and night you expect to live for two hundred fifty years, Steve Level, is the guy. I write books with free canal and super freakin onyx he's a professor, the universe he Chicago and he looks like a professor skinny thick glasses comforted.
shoes, no one's ever gonna mistake him for a tough guy, but there are many things he's afraid of. You know why, because he's a data guy Who spent a lot of time figuring out what I'll kill you and what won't? So he thinks most of our fears, vast vastly overrated I think, it's yours, five allowances for one thing: they even about spiders and tigers and in rhinos, We think that we should not be afraid of bugs, and people were terrified of them, but I think people are it are predisposed to to be frightened, thanks and in a world of media where, where now Bum borrowed it man, I think kidnapping is a great example. People used to be kidnapped a lot more than they are today, but you wouldn't hear about the little black girl who's been kidnapped in Utah. If you lived in Togo or New York, but now a little bloggers kidnapped Its national news media, promote fears, because people love to read about scary, stubborn horror, movies, hoo hoo.
In their right mind. If someone came from Mars, would think that horror movie could use incredibly successful. John or more people would try to scare themselves alive afraid of needles, don't go to the hospital and have. stuck in them, just as they can get the eight the fear it's it's strange that that damn how people's brains work, that way no it's even stranger football. Instead of running away from scary things that are highly improbable, football players run into each other on purpose, really hard without fear, Terrorist movement of the Dallas cowboys. Terence Newman, is one of the hardest hitters in the NFL you, I think he's a big guy, but he's not is about five eleven. hundred ninety pounds. That said- he is a rock hard dude or, as he puts it, swore as in swollen with muscle on the field
Newman is famous for launching his body like a missile if you're cornerback. What's your favorite thing to do favorite things out, EEG Interceptions in Verona back for touchdowns second favorite thing than sick, the is blown up receivers? and for those you don't know, a blown up receive remains. What does that mean exactly or running back, but it is mainly catch them. Within a good, solid it in basic beak when you hit men they go backwards and you go running over top overman them celebrating. going crazy in others. The Robert Sea can to see. I am you and how old are you, older than you might think. Seventy one Robert ten tutor is a professor of Neurosurgery at Boston University, any special rises in the study of traumatic encephalopathy were major blows to the brain. So let's talk about the NFL, I love the Unifil. You love the NFL, yes
The over doktor can do, and I are not alone. The superpowers become national holiday, more people watch it on tv, any other show millions of kids grow up with the dream of playing in the end My own son included he's years old for foot to fifty four pounds. He ain't exactly swore
When is the last time that you know that there has been an on the field death in football, there had been on the field DAS in football every single year, since nineteen thirty one, with the exception of nineteen. Ninety last year there were five on field death. This year there have been two both all five last year and both this year were due to brain injuries, so but county still occur, but they occur at relatively low rates compared with thirty, six thirty, seven. Thirty eight. See here that were seen forty years ago, four or five deaths at about the same number of people killed every year around the world in shark attacks, but whose afraid of football
can't you says most football deaths occur in high school in college. There hasn't been a single unfilled death and the unofficial, I'm if there was if a corner back like turns Newman blew up receiver like chat, Ojo Single on national tv. We never got up again. We would be a lot. are afraid of football and they are They fear I get. I guess so, Niccolo nervous about your silence or again bead on certain things work in terms of contact there. Play, I don't Quintus. Michael place strong safety for the Philadelphia Eagles. Roughly the same size as Terence Newman. He, too, is on four hitting very, very hard The hardest hit was actually this year. It was me A guy named Joseph argues. He's plays run about further operators, and this will happen the editors,
and he was wide open in us basically screaming- to fill out in the deep cover too and I can't I was finding because usually was, was silent and elsewhere and towards him and were into a silent and it was almost like. Neither I wasn't going back down because we know that to be the big collision or not you gotta run out. You could run on abounds, but I did. He's. Gonna, try, Romeo just watching them and film. So since we happened was basically ran beaten to each other and pretty must not each other, and I try to get up a little too soon they d known. Why will need in ITALY pull me out in, like Becky right now and actually he came out for, if you please do so, we both know each other, but you try You stand the game the new as it as it is a competitor cuz. You never know what that like. If he's going to get up or not so you want to be the first one to get up and go to make sure that you didn't take, you know the loss right.
Essentially, I think I got up for you did even nodded. Can a wobbly needing whereby down so when your actual head feel like afterwards like immediately afterwards, then later on is released without feeling on the first thing, It is everyday source of breaks like like, if you laid her head on your cell phone and put it on vibrate and someone called you, that's what it felt like for me. So that is actually sort of film is like a grandma helmet and trotted steady everything, and then, after that, initial vibration, It's almost like you're Canada dream you just annual laser, I jello each on stand up get your mind trying to tell you bye to do it, but your body and everything is disconnected. So you pretty much. This fall fly back on your face. You know.
Our brains are designed to float around inside the skull to survive the daily bumps of life, the playing football different. It's one, tough guy! running full speed into another guy travelling, just as fast in the opposite direction. I asked doktor can to what can happen to the brain and a collision like that. Well, the best analogy, or at least one that I think as useful as to think of yellow and a ball, and if you hit the ball very forcefully, you'll see the Jello isolate and, if you but the Jello into a bowl that is elliptical in shape not round and hit it, because you invariably hit off centre you'll, see that the Jello move forwards and backwards, and it also spins around in the bull and those are the primary forces it or imparted to the brain. The linear forces are those that are in one plain front and back or side to side and the spinning forces
are there rotational forces and those combined forces cause sharing and straining of brain tissue, and that in turn leads to a metabolic cascade of dysfunction. That is what we refer to as a concussion, a metabolic cascade of dysfunction, In a big hit on the football field, the only thing standing between your brain and a beating like that is your helmet doktor can too is also affiliated with Nazi. The national, operating committee on standards for athletic equipment, it's a group that tries to make football helmets safer? Well, how much are better today than ever before, the actual athletic equipment that is on the market today is better than athletic equipment. That's been on the market in the past
but the problem is: what are you asking an athletic equipment to do and if you're asking it to prevent skull fractures and if you're asking it to prevent most serious up girl hematoma as it does a stellar God, but if you're asking it to prevent concussion It can't do it so, let's see if we have this right. Modern helmets do a good job of preventing skull fractures and on feel deaths. That's why those numbers are weighed down historically, but getting lots can She is very healthy either to prevent them. Doktor can too could a more cushion helmet, but then you may. word about skull fractures again and then there's this problem. If you did give football players, more heavily cushioned helmet, what are you gonna do with it? A lot of people think the bigger problem in the game today that players user
it's not so much as protection was weapon. The way, for instance, in football, in my opinion that we're gonna have to address this problem is to eliminate the helmet as the initial point of contact, any act of tackling and even to a certain extent in blocking, is well quite frankly when people didn't have the hill what does the securities that there are today didn't have the face mask and you had to worry about your nose winding up in your ear from using your face in a tackle you didn't use. Your face, obviously,
as a safety equipment gets better. Our behaviour becomes more aggressive, absolutely very much more aggressive, very much more violent. We see the same thing happened in ice hockey as well, and what one, when you put face and had protection on people they're not is worried about taking blows to that area and so that the aggressive nature, the activity is greatly enhance. The waiter Let's figure this out if the helmet, which we think of as a safety device, is being used as a weapon. Not get rid of the weapon, their oars, if we play without helmets, rugby australian Rules football. What happens if you try to play American football like they did in the old days. Without a helmet, here's Quinton Michael again, it would probably be there, be a lot less head injuries. I know that for a fact- and I can tell that the tackle when I should be-
different. You know you can't nobody was mister face, so willingly so you, wouldn't go in reverse you and go in turn. joy, somebody you going to get the monogram urine and maybe we'll be exciting- I'm not sure, but I know that definitely be. There would be many injuries. Would it is much fun. I assume you really like to hit brain hitter that's, that's what makes it finally got these receivers out there, any funding the wallet from me meal. So that's it. That's that's good! So, if so for someone like you who loves the head, especially these spindly little receivers, you're always yap and right and you get here. You get to pay back once in awhile and If you took away a helmet rave, you took away home it's. Could you still have a lot of fun playing the game I don't think I would you have to wonder if a guy like,
women, Michael, doesn't have fun playing football. Without the amazing collisions, how much fun would we have watching it? And if you think it's fun watching to football players run into each other. Headfirst. At twenty miles an hour about twenty cars. Could sandwich into each other. Two hundred from w, and why see this is freakin onyx, radio, here's your host, Stephen Debonnair! You are listening to the first freak animates, radio episode we ever put out in early two thousand and ten, a few things you ve already heard need updating Clinton Michael than a member, filled up the Eagles is now out of the NFL, too. Newman is still playing, but always with the Minnesota Vikings Robert can't too is
a senior advisor to the NFL's head neck and Spine Committee and hold topic of brain injuries become much more pressing and when I said about the Superbowl that more people watch it on tv than any other show, I should have said any other show in the United States, because american football can't really compete with footballer soccer, and one more thing. My son is no longer nine years old and fifty four pounds he's fifteen, and I have no idea how much he ways, but his love for football has been eclipsed by his love for yes, football, ok back to the dangers safety here I started my career with a bad work, and my gaze They told us. This is Randy the joy he was an ass car driver for about twenty years. He one fifteen races.
More than seven million dollars and I was passing stolen Molly to qualify for they thought about it and they can get the Bob got sideways. split a long ways. Average Betty had told me a story Two weeks earlier, why were testing your man? You got back down here you got a crash and when you do this to think you're gonna happen, you gotta either crash real slide along way or you gonna fly way and crash real hard here that, if you can remember before you crash to wreak down and put your belt decided, you can get em and take a deep breath. You'll be a lot better well on Friday, and I see what I'm gonna hit a region. I told them about how it is. I could hear your early year you, your law, not to let go to stare wheels. I put my hand back honesty and when I looked and when ll and all I could see was sky
but I think about time of an actual at night to severe concussion was dizzy. some people say I'm still busy, but had attic for a couple weeks. But do you know three weeks later hours back NASCAR not raising that we wanted to happy she had so it didn't bother me didn't, kill me, and I went back to when three raises ethical. The Randy has seen sky he seen wall and he seemed safe to gear, get better and better. Now that he's retired he makes
supersedes aluminum seats for resource somebody, equipment to fire suit and helmets were definitely as good as it could have been, but one thing that that we realise is ahead a neck. Restrained, some that hold your head on girls of your body, strapped in your head, is not attached. Anything and you'll get the dealer and hard Catty Erwin, Adam petty Tony Roper, Blazer Vander ramming those guys beforehand that passed away with the same injury that we lost there with you know once we lost the best, we had naturally look. I we gotta stop this
saw any years ago. Many something happened when, when you put to hammer out any Pollux dropped, like people say your brain to out the window and at the very good possibility, tell me how all this safety and NASCAR, especially since a one, has changed the sport, whether from a spectator perspective or from a strategy perspective or what not. Well, when I go to animal funerals, which is good too, how it s anger, sport is the new generation drivers, the matter sore on a Monday and Tuesday? Has the older generation driver you? You look at it a fifty year old, NASCAR, driverless retired, a more modern day of global diner own choose, because it would be a pretty aren't. You know you, your body, stretched adaptable, locking then that a lot of different than the elder football players. You know I mean we didn't get it many concussions as they did,
but there is still a lot to guide out there that have hit their head of. I get my head one more time like a bright eyed mon Easter eggs. Now, The risk, I guess, is that in other realms, maybe in racing as well, the more safety features you add on the more reckless or the more aggressive people tend to get in and racing theirs. of aggression already. So do you think about that? Do you think about the fact that, as the walls, the our as any equipment get safer there he's gonna, be more aggression in the end, Ramey ratios were its aggressive. I know the walls that I hear before there were the soft walls. The safer barrier hurt a lot more. The Conakry was more than a favour by your nose and one or two things at the drivers of this I haven't felt it is really a concrete wall you make.
Thence. If you're not worried about hitting a concrete wall, you drive a little harder, take a few more chances if you're, all strapped into your car, surrounded by big exoskeleton, you don't feel so vulnerable aim or as a kid Tommy. What what was the car? You remembered, DR writing, as occurred in the back seat with your parents when they drank nineteen. Seventy two impala station wagon was seventy. Two the one who is a seventy four it ever was the one with the rounded back. In the end, the tailgate went down underneath the current member that swing open, always booze ugly. You might recognize this voice. Its Glenn back
talk show host well them just special edition of the Glen Back Programme. I like to college, are egghead our now here now you're you're year, younger children, our under ten okay. So comparing now the kind, the environment you were in safe how guises inclusion? Not there's? No, retaining the wear seat belts we were I mean I remember you know sit next to my dad. You know I maybe I was aid like dad. Let me draw, Neither is there a little bit nice. It was not now in ivory, but he's belted. In you knows, safety harnesses car seats, my wife, we were where we we were someplace recently, and this kid was sitting in, must have been about six and we were to stop light
and she saw the kid stand up out of the seed and lean over the shoulder of your dad who is driving in the car and my wife's. Oh my gosh they're, not belgian, I mean it was like you know it's I don't know we're gonna call Swat quick get them. EL bullies out I'm here they end up in Vienna. We all live. We survived it's ok. These days Beck drives a Mercedes sedan, its new shining, black everything's. In its place. I have to ride home with him the other day. I asked him why you by this? car in particular outstanding dealership, and it was because I was looking at an outing as well and and the guy you know said to me said just this: has some amazing safety features it Oh, when the car is gonna role, if your window is rolled down it,
Mediately roles, your window, it has the same. Airbags, your seats depend hang on what the car senses it's going to do. It puts the seat in the right position. In our minutes credit it makes me want to flip the car. I put myself in the most awkward position and I'm gonna bet. This is like the safest car on the road. He used the term death proof, but I honestly don't even think about it until we were until I was driving it, and I thought I have taken a court. I really was taking a corner a little too fast and unlike placid orders again, as I have said, Glinda Back buys a car that a salesman calls death proof in
finds himself driving. No more recklessly football players get better helmets. I start using them as weapons is related, described. This behaviour. Economists, like Steve Levitt, note as the pelts effect, so the in effect, which is named after a good friend of mine samples meant a colleague of mine. One of the most outlandish dressers who's ever ever walked here is the idea that you can put in a safety device and people can then feel so much safer in the activity there engaging and that they take more and more risk to the point where you actually have the opposite effect it. By putting the safety device you make, you need more people being hurt or or killed and end the classic example. People talk about his seat belts and Carson, and the idea would be without a seat belt. You feel at risk with a seat belt, you drive in a much more dangerous fashion and that could lead to more death. Now you send sceptical, I do
I believe that their ever has been convincing evidence of a single pelts from effect now there their little bits and pieces of into confined to, for instance, it does seem true that, after you put in seat belt and cars, there might have been a minuscule increase in the number of pedestrians who were killed, but that was overwhelmingly swathed by the on behalf of drivers who are not killed and passages in cars were not killed because pretty wear them. One thing that economists understand well: is it people respond to incentives? That's what he can. I once is at its root is trying to understand how people to respond and tenants. The policemen effect is a very deviant over the top example of that, in which people respond so strongly to the incentives that they actually end up undoing the benefit. That is, that the safety device.
Spoke to him the first, but I've got to agree with level, at least when it comes to driving. There are fewer traffic deaths per mile in the U S than ever before, and that's because of safety measures like seatbelts, not despite them sure Glenn Beck, might feel and vulnerable and his death proof car. But since his own safety is at stake here and that of his wife and kids, he surely doesn't want to get too. But what about safety gear that protects you while harming someone else like a football helmet what about all the radiation we absorb in medical test radiation that probably causes cancer and what about a safety net like legalized abortion, when you can reverse the effect of risky behavior like unprotected sex? Aren't people more likely to engage in such behavior? The fact is that our craving for safety
its costs, the other factors we spent way too much time being scared of things like shark attacks and terrorist attacks, things that, in the end, are astronomically unlikely we're getting more and more hyped up about a world, it's less and less dangerous. You know it's really weird. a lot of the dangerous stuff. We do these days, football stuff we do for kicks, not a necessity, but on our own. listen, if you think about it, risk is becoming a luxury good kind of like when backs death, proof Mercedes. So I didn't stop. Stop lying. I've got a hundred and ninety one I can flip it I'll survive at sea is the death
car dull, thanks for listening to our first ever episode can tell we're pretty new de podcasting. I sounded like I was trying out for the high school radio club, Let us know your thoughts on Itunes, where you can also subscribe to this free weekly podcast. You can catch us on Twitter, Facebook and at Freakonomics dot. Next week we are back with a brand new episode, what happens when a cutting edge, add agency is hired by an old school financial services firm to shake up their message yet funny got a triangle. I might call it a rock and a hard place. You hire a Harvard psychologist, of course, as the pitch man
great to think optimistically, but let's plan for whatever the future might bring. a smarter way to sell, let's next time on freedom, radio we cannot really. I was produced by W and why C and d nor productions, this episode was produced by calling Campbell and means Molly Webster. It was mixed by Michael Ratio, no thanks to a leash, as our staff include Greg resolve, Caroline English Susie liked Merit Jacob Christopher Worth and Khartoum. A high level If you want more frequent comics radio, you can subscribe to our podcast on Itunes work with a freak anomalies, dot com we'll find out radio applaud the books and more
either Stephen dubbing again one more thing. If you liked the episode you just heard, we think you like something else in the fridge I'm a radio network. Look for this interview on the new podcast people. I mostly admire with host. Steve letter on my guest today Sue bird. She collects championships, she's fine or w NBA championships. Five Euro league best about championships. To end see a championships for International Basketball Federation, world cups and four olympic Gold medal. I would Think that, in order to be the player you are, you would have to be a person who acted gets better. Under pressure rather than worth. Well, obviously, there are people
who are known for hitting big shots, her known for playing, while in big games that exists for sure, but I think we kind of frame it there why? It's not that you're gonna make nine out of ten. It's that you might make three at it but somebody else is making zero its not most successful. It's like who's. The most, successful of the least successful, that is people mostly admire. You can find it on your favorite podcast app subscribe now, so that you don't miss single episode. Hey there, Stephen Double again, one more thing. If you like for economics, radio, I think you'll also like the latest episode of people, I mostly admire the podcast hosted by my friend Brennan CO, author, Steve Lemon. Here's what it sounds like a guest today, Sue Bird, she collects championships
as for W Nba championships, five euro, the best about championships heaps to see a championships for International Basketball Federation, world cups and four olympic gold medals. I'd love to talk about the economics of professional Basketball, so the average player in the NBA made eight point three million dollars in two nineteen and in the W Nba the average with eighty thousand is frustrating just now. I think. Actually If you look at twenty twenty, our minimum is now higher, but we all but in the same amount of work, so is it a heart swallow knowing that somebody else's work is being rewarded at times by I live in reality. I understand business and economics. Some people look at us as like charity. The goal will help them out like an it in a terrible. What sense, not unlike this business,
vestment way and we do look at us as an investment immediately. Its talked about how we don't make money, and it's like fifty years, The NBA did either, but people are willing to me that investment get behind it and growing its people. For mostly admire. You can find it on your favorite, but I, runway, it's not that you're gonna make nine out of ten. It's that you might make three at ten, but somebody else's making zero it's on, whose most.
Transcript generated on 2021-01-30.