« Freakonomics Radio

1. The Dangers of Safety

2010-02-05 | 🔗
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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true value with Tv Amerika Trade were smart. Investors get smarter. 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 free economics, radio, a new podcast about the hidden side of everything. In this episode, what do NASCAR drivers, Glenn back and the hit men of the NFL having common here's? Your host Stephen Dogma, about the risk of just something. Almost everybody does everyday driving your car incredibly low that 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. It expect to live for two hundred fifty years, Steve Level is the guy. I write books with free economic and super freakin. Onyx he's a professor, the universe he Chicago, and he looks like a professor skinny thick glasses comfort, 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, are vastly overrated I think it is vital and think for one thing my evening about spiders and tigers, and I know some things that we should not be afraid of bugs and people were terrified of them, but I think people are an art are predisposed to to be frightened.
Things and in a world of media where, where now bombarded thematic 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 as national news media, promote fears, because people love to read about scariest of horror, movies, hoo, hoo in their right mind. If someone came from Mars, would think that horror movie, rebellious, 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, so 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.
Tears. Newman though the Dallas Cowboys Terence Newman, is one of the hall the citizen, the NFL, you might think big guy, but he's not he's about five eleven, hundred ninety pounds that say 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 raw tobacco touchdowns. Second favorite thing them If everything is blown, it receives, And for those you don't know, a blown up receive remains. What does that mean exactly or running back what it is? catch him with a good, solid it in basic legal. When you hit men, they go according to you, go running over Tab, Overman celebration going crazy. No that's the Robert Sea can to see. I am,
you and how old are you older. You might think. Seventy one Robert ten tutor is a professor of Neurosurgery at Boston, university, 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 have the NFL, yes these over doktor can do, and I are not alone the Superbowl because National Holiday, more people watch it on tv. Any other show millions of kids grow up, dream of playing in the NFL My own son included here. Years old for foot to fifty four pounds, he ain't exactly swore
When is the last time that you know of that, there has been an on the field death in football. There had been on the field death and football every single year since nineteen thirty one, with the exception of nineteen. Ninety last year there were five on feel death. This year there have been two both all five last year in both this year were due to brain injuries, so brutality still occur, but they occur at relatively low rates compared with thirty, six thirty, seven, thirty eight I fear that were seen forty years ago, four or five deaths. That's 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 NFL I'm good, if there was, if a corner backlog Terence Newman blew up a receiver like chat. Ojo single on national tv. We never got up again We would be a lot more afraid of football and they are I fear I get. I guess so Niccolo nervous about your silence or organ bead on certain things, work in terms of contact there with them. Must carry them. Quintus, Michael place, strong safety for the Philadelphia eagles roughly the same size as Terence Newman. He, too is four hitting very, very hard the hardest hit was actually this year. It was me Justin Fargas he's plays running back for the Oakland Raiders and basically have only had a toss and he was wide open. You know basically screaming up the field. I was in the deep cover two,
I can't I was finding, because usually was silent and elsewhere and towards him and were into a silent and it was almost like neither one of us back down, because we know that to be the big collision or because you gotta run out, you can run on abounds, but I did he's, gonna, try Romeo, just Washington and film. So since we happened was basically rifles beaten to each other and pretty must not each other, and I try to get up a little too soon enough. They D known in those wobble need and eventually the tree pull me out in like Becky right now and I'll show you he came out for, if you please do so. We both know each other, but you tried to stand to gain new as it as a competitor. You know you know You never know what that goes like if he's going to get up or not, so you want to be the first one to get up and you want to make sure that you didn't take. You know the right there. So, essentially, I think I got a forty did even nodded
gonna wobbly need by down so with your actual head feel like afterwards, like immediately afterwards, then later on those released without feeling. The first thing it is everyday Sars, vibrates like like, if you later on your cell phone and put it on vibrate, someone called you that's what it felt like for me so The easily actually sort of film is like a grandma helmet and trotted steady. Everything Then, after that initial vibration, it's almost like Canada Dream flown annual exert I jello. U turn 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 flat 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 ass doktor can do what can happen to the brain in a collision like that. Well, the best analogy, or at least one that I think is useful as to think of yellow and a ball, and if you hit the ball very forcefully yoke either jello isolate and if you put the jello into a ball that is elliptical in shape, not round and hid it because you invariably hit or centre you'll see that the Jello move forwards 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 decide and the spinning forces
are there rotational forces and those combined forces cause sharing and straining of brain tissue and adding? earn leads to a metabolic cascade of dysfunction. That is what we refer to as a concussion, a metabolic cascade of dysfunction in a bit. Here 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 sub girl hematoma as it does a dollar job, 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, good job, preventing skull fractures and on field deaths. That's why Those numbers are weighed down historically, but getting logic, cushions in very healthy either to prevent them. Doktor can too could make a more cushioned helmet but then might be worried about skull fractures again and then there's this problem. If you did give football there's a more heavily cushioned helmet. What are you gonna do with it? A lot of people think the big problem in the game today that players, user,
I'm 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 as well. Quite frankly, when people didn't have the hill picture of 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, so waiting let's figure this out. If the helmet, which we think of as a safety device, is being used as a weapon get rid of the weapon. Their oars 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 Clinton, Michael again, it would probably be
W lot less head injuries. I know that for a fact- and I can tell that the packing when I should be like different, you know you can The boy was mister face, so willingly. So you can go in efforts, you and go in turn, choices. Are you going to get the monogram urine and maybe we'll be exciting or 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 bright, hitter, That's that's what makes it Finally, got these receivers out there. Any funding, it is the wallet, but also does 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 year, you get to pay back once in awhile and
If you took away helmet rave, you took away home, it's could you still have a lot of fun playing the game? I I would you have to wonder if a guy like Winton 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 king into each other, two hundred yeah, I like my career with a bad working, my gaze three, they taller. This is Randy the joy he was an ass car driver 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 sideways, slid, alarm ways, average Betty
story we clearly why we're getting your man you got back down, You got a bag and when you do this to you're gonna happen? You gotta either crash real quick. Like a long way off quite a long way. Real hard. He reviewed 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 that well I'm writing and actually we're gonna hit a breakdown by programme about as I could Your your early year, you you're, not gonna, go to stare wheels, I put my hand back on their will and what I the windshield and all I could see, was sky I have always about guy might integrity, but of an actual at night.
I had a severe concussion was daily for some people say I'm still busy had a headache for a couple weeks. But do you know three weeks later back now go north racing and we want to champion so did a bother me didn't, kill me. I went back to when three rated at the time. Sir Randy has seen sky, he seem wall, any scene, safety gear get better and better nobody's retired. He makes super safe aluminum seats for re scars somebody equipment to fire suit and their helmets We're were definitely as good as it could have been, but one thing we realize
had a neck restrained. Some that hold your head on because of your body strapped in your head, is not attached. Anything and you'll get that they'll Earnhardt Catty Erwin, Adam, petty Tony Roper, Blaze, Alexander ramming those guys before him now passed away with the same injury that we lost there with you know, once we lost the best we had naturally, ok, we got to stop this saw many years ago. I'm and if nothing happens, when when you put the habit, I pull extrapolate people say your brain drew 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 us, Spectator perspective or from a strategy perspective or what not. Well, when I go to animal fuels, which is good, how it is going to support the new generation drivers.
The mad ashore. On a Monday, Do they have the older generation driver you, you look at it a fifty year old, Dr Rath retired, a more modern day of global diner own choose because it would beat up pretty aren't you know you are you stretch their their problem, locking in on the mantel out a different than the older football players? You know I mean we didn't get it many concussions as they did, but this fill out a guy dot that have hit your head. If 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 and racing as well, the more safety features you add on the more reckless or the more aggressive people tend to get in and racing. There's a lot of aggression already. So do you think about that? Do you think about the fact that, as the wall, The cars and equipment get safer, there he's gonna be more aggression in the end brownie ratios.
Always aggressive. I know the walls that I had before there were the soft walls safer barrier, Mordecai furry walls, hurt a lot more than that. Take about your nose and and one of the things that the the drivers of this error haven't it is really a concrete wall. It makes sense if you're not worried about hitting a concrete wall, you drive little harder. Take a few more chances if you're, all strapped into your car surround by big exoskeleton. You don't feel so vulnerable anymore. As a kid Tommy? What was the car? You remember, DR writing, as a kid in the back,
your parents, were they drank nineteen? Seventy two Paulus station wagon was a seventy two as the one it was. Seventy four error was the one with the rounded back. In the end, the tailgate went down underneath the clarity murmur that dinner swing open, always booze ugly. I recognize this voice, its Glenn back. The talk, show well then enjoy special edition of the going back programme. I like to college, are egghead our now here now you're, year, younger children, our under ten a case Compare now the kind of. Environment, urine safe arising, Lynn, there's, no we would anywhere seat belts. We were I mean I remember it. I ll sit next to my dad. And you know I mean maybe I was aid like dad. Let me draw, Neither is there a little bit nuns. It was not now
in I remedies melted in in Minos safety harnesses the car seats. My wife, we were where we were some, I recently and this kid was sitting in man. I don't about six if we were to stop light and she's the kid stand up, out of the seed and lean over the shoulder of her dad was driving in the car and my wife. Oh my gosh they're, not belgian. I mean it was like no it's I don't know we gotta call Swat quick, get the belt. Valise out I'm here. They end up in Vienna. We all live. We survived it's ok, these days, Beck drive
Mercedes sedan, its new shining, black everything's in its place. I have to ride home with them the other day. I asked him why you by this in particular outstanding dealership, and it was because I was looking at an outing as well and and the guy we now said to me said just said, amazing safety features it when the car is gonna role. If your window is rolled down it, mediately roles, your window, it the side airbags, your seats depend. Hang on what the cars offences is going to do. It puts the seat in the right position in our eminent spread it it makes me want to flip the car. I've got to put myself in the most awkward position and I'm gonna bet. This is
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'll. Take it a court. I really was digging a corner a little too fast and unlike at present, President Abu, so Glyn, begbie is a car that a salesman calls death proof and finds himself dry being no more recklessly football players get better helmets. They start using them as weapons is related described. This behaviour account it's like Steve Web notice, the policemen effect. So the pills when effect, which after a good friend of mine, samples meant a colleague of mine, one of the most outlandish dressers who's ever walk. The earth is the 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 them or people being hurt or or killed him 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 not believe that their ever has been convincing evidence of his go pelts from effect now there, their little bits and pieces of seven to confess So, for instance, it does seem true that after you put in seat belts and cars, there might have been a me This will increase in the number of pedestrians who were killed, but that was overwhelmingly swathed by the number of drivers who are not killed in past
just 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 now exists at its root is trying to understand how people to respond or attempts. The pelt spent affect is a very DV over the top example of that, in which people respond so strongly to the incentives that they actually end up under doing the benefit that, indeed, that the safety device was pushed out of the first, but I've got to agree with level, at least when it comes to driving. Or 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 might feel and vulnerable and his death proof car. But his own safety is at stake here and that of his wife and kids he surely doesn't want to get too reckless. But what about safety gear that protects while harming someone else like a football helmet,
what about all the radiation? We in medical tests radiation that probably causes cancer. And what about a safety net lake legalised abortion when you can reverse the effective risky behaviour like unprotected sex, aren't people more likely to engage in such behaviour. The fact is that our even for safety has its costs, the other factors we spent 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, and you know it's really weird a lot of the dangerous stuff. We do these days like football stuff, we do for key
not at a necessity but on our own volition. If you think about it, risk is becoming a luxury good kind of like when Beck's death Proof Mercedes. Why so? I didn't stop at the stoplight. I've got a hundred and ninety one. I can flip it I'll survive. Is the death proof car though thanks for listening to free economics, radio next time will look at how much it costs every time you showed a cheeseburger in your mouth and a fat can be taxed until then keep your ear out for excerpt of interviews with quitting Michael gone back and others on our website.
For economics, dot com subscribed to free economics, radio on Itunes, and the next episode will come to you in your sleep for economics, radio, produced by me. Molly Webster, Stephen Governor some help from our engineering friends if you thought you had to travel far over the Patio vanguard to taste the pastries parents to take another look with two times total points. A grocery stores, your same kitchen can come with more cuisines. Sapphire preferred from chase make more. What's yours, dollar, one thousand dollars and purchases per month from November. First, one point able, through twenty one, want to cancer discredit, approval Cardoso Budgeting Monetary, Spain, a member of the icy.
Transcript generated on 2021-03-19.