December 29th, 2017

I’m reminded of a scene from W—a movie I could not watch because I lacked distance—where Vice President Dick Cheney discusses whether or not a 1 percent chance that a salad might have been poisoned was a good reason to not eat the salad as a metaphor for sacrificing millions to the possibility that there might have been chemical weapons somewhere in Iraq. We know what happened, but Robert Wright uses evolutionary psychology to explain how it happened, how President George Walker Bush’s brain saw the rattlesnake beside the path.

Though your brief conviction that you’ve seen a rattlesnake may be wrong ninety-nine times out of a hundred, the conviction could be lifesaving the other one time in a hundred. And in natural selection’s calculus, being right 1 percent of the time in matters of life and death can be worth being wrong 99 percent of the time, even if every one of those ninety-nine instances you’re briefly terrified. p. 32-3

From Why Buddhism Is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment by Robert Wright

And this is why we’re still mired in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Found in my electronic chapbook.

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