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  • Alice: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Alice.

  • Finn: and I'm Finn. Hello.

  • Alice: Hello, Finn. You're off on holiday tomorrow, aren't you?

  • Finn: I am and you know, and I'm dreading it. I hate flying!

  • Alice: Do you? I didn't know you had a phobia

  • and that means a strong and unreasonable fear of something.

  • Finn: Well, I don't think this is a phobia because it isn't unreasonable.

  • Flying thousands of feet up in the sky in a tin can, you know, that's not safe!

  • Alice: Flying is safer than you think, Finn. It's much riskier to drive or cycle to work.

  • And, actually, risk taking is the subject of today's show!

  • Risk means the chances of something bad happening.

  • For example, did you know that your chance of being knocked off your bicycle

  • and killed during a one-mile journey is the same as your chances of winning the lottery?

  • Finn: You know Alice, I didn't know that.

  • Alice: And this leads me on to our quiz question for today:

  • What are the odds ... what are the chances of either of these two things happening? Is it...

  • a) 1 in 4 million? b) 1 in 14 million?

  • Or c) 1 in 400 million?

  • Finn: I have no idea. I'll go with the big number: 1 in 400 million, c).

  • Alice: OK. So we'll find out later if you're right or wrong later on.

  • Now let's listen to Andreas Wilkey, a psychologist at Clarkson University in New York,

  • talking about why we're bad at assessing risk.

  • Andreas Wilkey: People typically fear anything which is small probability

  • but it's extremely catastrophic if it were to happen...

  • Think about dying in a plane crash, think about a nuclear meltdown from the nearby power plant.

  • Recently we have another increase in these birds' virus outbreaks in South Korea.

  • People read about that.

  • And they may pay a lot of attention to that in the news but they may forget to get their flu shot.

  • Finn: That was Andreas Wilkey from Clarkson University.

  • And we heard that a small probability of something happening means it's unlikely to happen.

  • But we worry about big or catastrophic events such as catching bird flu or dying in a plane crash

  • because we have a gut reaction to them

  • in other words, we react emotionally.

  • A catastrophic event is something that causes a huge amount of damage and suffering.

  • Alice: And it's often because of media coverage

  • for example, watching the news and reading the newspapers

  • that it can be difficult for us to understand how likely certain things are to happen.

  • Catastrophic events feel like very real threats,

  • while we tend to forget about the small but chronic risks that become more likely over time.

  • Finn: We do. Chronic means something that lasts for a long time.

  • So for example, what if there was a cigarette that killed you as soon as you smoked it?

  • Nobody would do that, would they?

  • Alice: No, they wouldn't.

  • Finn: But plenty of people are happy to smoke for years

  • and put off worrying about the health risks for the future.

  • Alice: Yes, that's a good point, Finn! People feel they are in control of risks that stretch over time.

  • You know, they think, "I could stop tomorrow" or "I could smoke less".

  • But what about people who enjoy taking big risksthose thrill seekers out there?

  • Finn: People who enjoy extreme sports actually seek out dangerit gives them extreme pleasure!

  • So let's listen to Karina Hollekim from Norway. She's a base jumper �V that's

  • a person with a parachute who leaps from tall buildings or cliffs

  • and she's talking about what she feels about risk.

  • Karina Hollekim: You need to measure the pleasure. Is it going to be worth it for you?

  • So if the risk is really high, it means that the pleasure needs to be equally high.

  • Or hopefully even higher... You can't measure it on a scale or anything. For me, it's a stomach feeling.

  • It's the value within me, and I'm the only one who can tell what value it has to me.

  • Alice: Yes. It must be a magical feeling to step off a cliff, mustn't it, Finn?

  • Finn: "It's a stomach feeling", you knowmy stomach would definitely be saying, "oh no, no, no!"

  • So why not change the subject and give me the answer to today's quiz question?

  • Alice: I asked: What are your chances of being knocked off your bicycle and killed during

  • a one-mile journey and this is the same as your chances of winning the national lottery?

  • So is it... a) 1 in 4 million? b) 1 in 14 million? Or c) 1 in 400 million?

  • Finn: I said c) 1 in 400 million.

  • Alice: Yes. And you were wrong, Finn.

  • Finn: Alright. Really? OK.

  • Alice: Yes. The odds are actually 1 in 14 million.

  • You are as likely to win the national lottery from a single ticket

  • as you are to be knocked off your bicycle and killed during a one-mile journey.

  • This statistic comes from the Professor David Spiegelhalter,

  • who is Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk in the Statistical Laboratory at the

  • University of Cambridge in the UK.

  • So I think he really knows his stuff.

  • Finn: That's a very long title, yes, I'm sure he does.

  • Alice: Yeah.

  • Finn: So let's hear today's words again, Alice?

  • Alice: Here they are:

  • phobia

  • risk

  • probability

  • gut reaction

  • catastrophic

  • media coverage

  • chronic

  • thrill seekers

  • base jumper

  • And that brings us to the end of today's 6 Minute English.

  • We hope you were thrilled by today's programme.

  • Please join us again soon.

  • Both: Bye.

Alice: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Alice.

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B1 UK TOEIC finn alice catastrophic risk phobia

BBC 6 Minute English December 17, 2015 - Why do we take risks?

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    Adam Huang posted on 2016/01/31
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