You might feel terribly afraid of terrorism, or you might feel like it's not something worth worrying about.
You might feel safer when you see people taking their shoes off at airport metal detectors, or you might not.
This essay is my initial attempt to explore the feeling of security: where it comes from, how it works, and why it diverges from the reality of security.
Four fields of research--two very closely related--can help illuminate this issue.
" "That's easy," I said, "simply ground all the aircraft." It's such a far-fetched trade-off that we as a society will never make it.
But in the hours after those terrorist attacks, it's exactly what we did.
The second is the psychology of decision-making, and more specifically bounded rationality, which examines how we make decisions.
Neither is directly related to security, but both look at the concept of risk: behavioral economics more in relation to economic risk, and the psychology of decision-making more generally in terms of security risks.
Psychologists have studied risk perception, trying to figure out when we exaggerate risks and when we downplay them.
A fourth relevant field of research is neuroscience.