this post on nature.com is by david ropeik and it's about risk
(found via freakonomics)
in summary it says "that our perceptions of risk are an inextricable blend of fact and feeling, reason and gut reaction, cognition and intuition"
the post identifies "the perception gap, the gap between our fears and the facts, which is a huge risk in and of itself" and argues that that gap "produces social policies that protect us more from what we're afraid of than from what in fact threatens us the most"
in a review of the literature on risk perception the post draws out how:
a) we initially respond subconsciously/instinctively;
b) to quickly make sense of partial info our brains use shortcuts formed from previous experiences;
c) certain risks feel more frightening notwithstanding the facts;
d) our views on risk are shaped to agree with those we most strongly identify with.