Anyways, this post comes from The Frontal Cortex (a great blog for this sort of thing), and is actually almost exactly what my next big theatrical project is going to be about. The subject is Loss Aversion:
The two different questions examine identical dilemmas; saving one third of the population is the same as losing two thirds. And yet, doctors reacted very differently depending on how the question was framed. When the possible outcomes were stated in terms of deaths⎯this is the "loss frame"⎯physicians were suddenly eager to take chances. They were so determined to avoid any alternative associated with a loss that they were willing to risk losing everything.
Kahneman and Tversky stumbled upon loss aversion after giving their students a simple survey, which asked whether or not they would accept a variety of different bets. The psychologists noticed that, when people were offered a gamble on the toss of a coin in which they might lose $20, they demanded an average payoff of at least $40 if they won. The pain of a loss was approximately twice as potent as the pleasure generated by a gain. Furthermore, our decisions seemed to be determined by these feelings. As Kahneman and Tversky put it, "In human decision making, losses loom larger than gains."
Think about Loss Aversion, and then think about the 1% Doctrine, from one Richard Cheney:
If there's a 1% 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. It's not about our analysis ... It's about our response.
Emphasis mine. Oh, and don't forget the rules of Terrorball:
(1) The game lasts until there are no longer any terrorists, and;
(2) If terrorists manage to ever kill or injure or seriously frighten any Americans, they win.