By News StaffPublished: Oct 29, 2014 at 9:07 PM PDTLast Updated: Oct 29, 2014 at 9:07 PM PDT
The public often lets feelings of fear drive their perception of a risk, rather than the probability of the risk actually happening, said University of Oregon Psychology Professor Paul Slovic.
With Ebola in the headlines, Slovic said, our thoughts of possibly contracting the disease hit all the risk perception hot buttons. It's unfamiliar, it's deadly, it's invisible, and not easily controllable.
Slovic says we tend to overreact and over-prepare, so that a disease doesn't spread. He says a lot of the precautions are more to ease the public fears than prevent a tragedy.
A 5-year-old was rushed to Bellevue Hospital overnight by medical teams dressed in full protective gear.
"The child was showing some signs of an illness," said Mayor Bill De Blasio. "Not clear what the illness was, we did the cautious thing and brought the child in under the full protocol."
It's a protocol that has come under fire: specifically, the decision by governors in New York, New Jersey and Illinois to impose a mandatory quarantine on anyone returning to the U.S. who's had direct contact with an Ebola patient in West Africa.