Dick Cheney is a One Percenter

29 Jun

laws-of-fear.jpgNo, not that type of one percenter. (I do accept that all three of you neither understood the reference, nor found it funny).

What is the One Percent Doctrine? Dick Cheney described it thusly (quoted from Ron Sunkind’s book by the same name, via Cass Sunstein):

“We have to deal with this new type of threat in a way we haven’t yet defined. . . . With a low-probability, high-impact event like this . . . If there’s a one percent chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response.”

Prof. Sunstein examines the doctrine as a particular instance of the Precautionary Principle, often deployed by environmentalists, that argues for significant or immediate action for an event that has a low probability of occuring, but would result in sweeping or catastrophic changes.  I highly recommend picking up Sunstein’s book that analyzes the legal ramifications of the Precautionary Principle: Laws of Fear.  Though I have yet to read it (I chose to read his 2003 book Why Societies Need Dissent first), Sunstein adds to the necessary debate on how to procede when information is incomplete and resources are scarce, but the consequence of inaction could be dire.

One Response to “Dick Cheney is a One Percenter”

  1. KAF July 1, 2006 at 1:29 pm #

    I didn’t get the reference either. But I don’t understand quite what you’re getting at with the post. Are you pointing out that Dick Cheney does subscribe to such a principle when it suits him (regarding terrorism)but when it comes to the environment does not? Or are you just reccommending a book?

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