In this earlier post , I mentioned how even one occurrence of an unlikely event, leads to action, no matter how rational or irrational. Michael, commenting on the post, mentions an example I had been thinking about as well, the tragedy of the girl killed by a puck at a hockey game and how that led to nets at the ends of the stadium to protect customers from a one in a million risk.
I wonder how much of this response is due to the threat of a law suit. Once something has happened, no matter how unlikely, the second time is considered negligence. So the first time someone is killed by a hockey puck, it’s bad luck. But the second time, no matter how unlikely, you get sued for not having nets up to block the puck. So maybe it’s not ‘salience’ but the legal environment that explains seemingly irrational overreaction to remote risks.