Social vs. effective safety

The appartement I live in is equipped with a smoke detector, the problem is is, this thing is way to sensitive, and triggers as soon as there is a slight burn, like say when the toasts are getting slightly blackened. Having a fire alarm go off while trying to have breakfast is quite annoying, having the system fire up every now and then basically reduces the value of the signal. Unsurprisingly, nobody reacted when the alarm went off.

It seems car alarms, and even the metal detectors at the airport follow the same pattern, cranking up the sensitivity and create a lot of of false positives and degrade the quality of the signal, but they make people feel they are addressing the problem, or at least doing something. Add to this the many panels instructing people to avoid doing things everybody knows is a bad idea (gee swimming while high is bad, who would have known) or explaining things nobody will have the time to read when the times come – do you really thing that in an emergency, people will have the time to read CPR instructions.

The interesting thing is, those actions are social constructs, the people installing setting and operating those system are probably not the ones who want such devices, or such settings on the devices, but society dictates it. In other words, those alarms and warnings are there not so much for practical reasons than for safeguarding some social illusion. While doing things for the sake of some social facade is not new, I think I prefer building temples and monuments instead of erecting disclaimer billboards…

One thought on “Social vs. effective safety

  1. Et avec un détecteur pas particulièrement sensible, il faut éviter les fondues… bon ce n’est ni la saison, ni l’endroit pour faire une bonne fondue… Ce qui est drôle, c’est que les faux positifs sont aussi très fréquents pour les tests métabolitiques, l’exemple le plus connu est le test de grossesse, s’il est positif, il faut vérifier, s’il est négatif, c’est sur qu’il n’y a pas de grossesse.

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