The National Transportation Safety Board has again recommended that airlines require a separate seat for all children, regardless of age, eliminating the current practice of permitting children under the age of 2 to fly for free on the lap of a parent. Will mandating child restraint systems make air travel safer? The answer is probably yes but that’s the visible.
Having to purchase an extra airplane ticket, some families will opt to drive to their destination instead. Thus, mandated CRS will force some families to switch to a less safe method of travel and some highway fatalities will represent the invisible victims of NTSB policy. By the way, if parents wanted a greater measure of safety for their infant, it’s available to them right now. They can purchase a seat and seat restraint for their infant.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is charged with ensuring that drugs are safe and effective. Drugs must meet FDA approval before they can be marketed. FDA officials can make two kinds of errors. They can approve a drug that has unanticipated, dangerous side effects that might cause illness and death. Or, they can err by either not approving or causing huge delays in the marketing of a safe and effective drug. Statistically, these are known as the Type I and Type II errors.
FDA officials have a bias toward erring on the side of over-caution. If FDA officials err on the side of under-caution, approving an unsafe drug, they are attacked by the media, patient groups and investigated by Congress. Their victims, sick and dead people, are highly visible. If FDA officials err on the side of over caution, keeping a safe and effective drug off the market, who’s to know? The victims are invisible.
If you conclude that FDA officials have a bias toward errors that create invisible victims, who don’t know whom to blame for their illness or death, step to the head of the class.