Risk management is often done badly. Directly perceptible risks are dealt with instinctively and intuitively, but when the science is inconclusive people are liberated to argue from pre-established beliefs, convictions and prejudices. When unconfirmed hypotheses - `virtual risks' - get mistaken for risks about which science has clear and useful advice to offer, much confusion results.
In this talk I will discuss a number of the sources of confusion. These include perceptual filters, the 'risk thermostat', the excessive risk aversion that results from trying to reduce accidents without considering the opportunity costs, and the effects of various personality types - the egalitarian, the individualist, the fatalist and the hierarchist.