The local nudist colony is going nuts trying to buy some velociraptor-proof fencing. I’m not sure if I should sell them ordinary cyclone fencing because I’m not sure it’ll stop a raptor attack.
Time for math!
Let’s assess this risk…
Risk assessment includes two big pieces:
- What could go wrong.
- What are the potential ramifications of something going wrong.
The first item is tricky, because it’s an estimate or calculation of odds. And those odds can be adjusted. For example, what are the odds of a velociraptor running amok in a nudist colony? Those odds can be reduced by placing the nudist colony far away from any dinosaur-creation laboratories. Those odds can be increased by building a nudist colony on Isla Nubar.
The second item is often overlooked in arguments about odds. The ramifications of something going wrong takes the form of a kind of “wild list” of things. Some examples of ramifications might be “painful splinters” or “everybody dies”. The possible ramifications matter a lot. As an example, consider the ramifications of a velociraptor attack on a nudist colony. Very nasty situation, that. There will be some shredded feet breakfasts, that’s for sure.
Assessing risk is a complicated thing. To assess risk with some kind of accuracy requires that both of these points be considered.
Look, I drew a picture up above.
In a nutshell — a very rough nutshell — the risk of a situation is the possibility of it happening times the ramifications.
If the possibility is low and the ramifications are low, you can ignore it. If the possibility is high and the ramifications are high, you probably better not ignore it.
A situation where either of those factors escalates suddenly is a problem.
Obviously, the way to reduce the risk of a situation is to reduce either of those factors.
Back to my business deal…
I’ve decided that as long as the nudist colony is located in an area devoid of natural lysene supplies, the likelihood of a velociraptor attack is sufficiently low that I can safely ignore the ramifications of such an attack. That is to say, the odds of it are so close to zero, that when I multiply the factors together, even with a pretty high Ramifications value, the overall risk is pretty much zero.
So, I’m going to sell them the fencing. Because I need the cash.
I’m also going to recommend they establish a “no velociraptor” policy and post it clearly. Just in case the Possibility value departs from the teeny-tiny area near zero.
My risk assessment results in a project I’m going to file under the heading “Easy Money.”
Math is awesome.