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The Risks I Take

A couple people recently have asked about the risks I take. On one hand, as they point out, I play it extremely safe by eating healthy foods and abstaining from alcohol and drugs. On the other hand, I climb construction cranes and go skydiving. Isn't this a contradiction?

It isn't - at least in my "eccentric" way of thinking. The difference is that one type of risk is an incidental risk, and the other is a sustained risk. I'm not really concerned with how dangerous a particular activity is. I know that jumping onto a moving freight train is more dangerous than eating a cookie. I'm worried on the "expected value" of the event. In other words, the average harm per hour times the amount of hours I'll be doing the activity.

If I climb a radio tower, there's a very small chance that I'll kill myself doing so. I don't mind taking that risk, though, because I'm only going to spend a total of ten hours or so doing it in my entire life. The odds probably won't catch up with me.

Raffles Institution's 189th Founders' Day Speech

On Econoception


The speaker, Mr. Bilahari Kausikan, makes references to economics several times in his speech: when he talks about the unpredictability of life's events and what life may throw upon us, he is echoing Keynes' very ideas about capitalism and chance. There is simply no way we can quantify the odds of cataclysmic occurrences and the probability of a scientific discovery or breakthrough happening in the world. No risk management model and no amount of statistical analysis or modelling can ever predict the future. Ironically, it is this false conviction that the future can be predicted or that risks can be managed effectively that ultimately causes calamities, whether natural or man-made, to befall on us.

Hope you will enjoy reading his speech as much as I did.

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