Yachting and private jets are highly regulated: in how they are built, how they are maintained, how they are operated, and what safety equipment they are required to carry.

NASCAR racing is not particularly regulated by government. It IS highly "regulated" by its private sanctioning organization, as is Formula 1. NASCAR doesn't seem high status to me, Formula 1 does.

The construction of mansions is as highly regulated as the construction of any housing with long lists of codes and inspections that must be passed to render the mansion legally habitable.

Rules and regulations regarding construction and operation of supercars (many hundres of thousands of dollars each) are the same as for the tiniest Fiats and Toyotas.

Cocaine and heroin are both very illegal, and were so even when cocaine was for rich people and heroin for the poor.

Tobacco smoking and cheap alcohol use are not particularly high status, but are very dangerous when used as directed. Their use is regulated, but hardly to the point of making them as safe as other things which are banned from use because of their dangerousness.

Relatively middle/lower class people throughout the southwestern United States bring all manner of gasoline powered "toys" to vast swathes of public desert which are made available for their use. I do not know injury rates from this, but it sure looks dangerous and feels dangerous when you are doing it. It is also great fun, in between disasters.

It doesn't seem to me that status is a particularly good way to predict whether something dangerous will be regulated or not. I think it might have more to do with information. Non-racing of boats, planes, and cars FEEL like they should be safe. I justify the impulse to regulate by suggesting that regulation should reflect the tradeoffs a highly informed rationalist with great leisure available to study the issue would choose. I have heard from more ER nurses and doctors that if you are stupid enough to ride a motorcycle you could still be smart enough to mitigate with a helmet. That doesn't mean they are right, but they are certainly exposed to the highly non-vanishing tail of bad outcomes that the average rider might come across only once in his life, at precisely the point at which it is too late to factor the information into his decision.

Similarly with building regulation. I am not "free" to build my house out of stuff other people would use to start fires, or in ways where its collapse is a matter of years rather than centuries, and then sell it into a market where it would be prohibitively expensive to reverse engineer to determine for potential buyers the real status of this house. Instead we have a clearly well-working market in houses where there is a very reasonable expectation of the level of quality of construction based on building codes. Building codes do for houses what accounting standards and disclosure rules do for publicly traded stocks, they create a particular regulated market.

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Sorry, that came across incorrectly. You are required to carry specific equipment in order to get a permit to climb. (It doesn't matter who makes it.)


If you submit the climbing registration card e.g. minus an ice axe, you will not be granted a permit.

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One of the things the thread's author left out is that the evidence from Western Australia is the overall mortality significantly increased after the helmet law.

Helmet usage eliminated an infinitesimal number of deaths, if any at all.

However, cycling rates went down substantially (a crippling blow to your "minor inconvenience" argument), and the effect on health of the decrease in cycling overwhelmed any other effect of the law.

I'm not making this up or surmising. The British Medical association published studies to this effect.

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Except that in many societies, extremely risky activities (like making war) have been reserved to high status males until quite recently.

It wasn't that long ago that even a "Commander in Chief" (i.e. a king or other war leader) was expected not just on the battlefield, but on the front lines. You can see echoes of this in the way that men in the British Royal Family are still expected to serve on active duty in real combat positions.

You see the same thing in Japan, right up into the 19th century, in ancient Rome and Greece, where high-status military positions were reserved for wealthy aristocrats, even arguably in the American Revolution and Confederacy. And it's worth noting that one way the French Revolution overturned the social hierarchy was by vastly expanding the Army and replacing the medieval aristocratic taille du sang with conscription and glory (and taxes) for everyone.

Sexuality is another arena where risk (in the form of threats to one's family, disease, bastards, etc.) has traditionally been tolerated or even encouraged for elites and despised for the masses. Likewise, look at how differently promiscuity is treated between males and females, and how the differences only increase in societies that render women second-class citizens.

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I think it should be pointed out that almost all state and local laws mandating bicycle hemets apply only to children.

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Also, Ian Walker found that automobile drivers gave cyclists less room when cyclists wore helmets.

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John Delaney's widow is interviewed here:


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I think there is a lot of magical thinking on the part of those who participate in high risk activities. They all imagine that they have the “Right Stuff”. The stuff that test pilots thought they had which drove the delusion that all crashes of all test aircraft were always due to pilot error, that crashes only happened to people who didn't have the “Right Stuff”.


It is a lot cheaper for those the high risk activities benefit to push the fantasy of the “Right Stuff” than to actually spend the money to make things safer. There is a lot of this in workplace safety issues.


Raising the status of those who survive high risk activities or lowering the status of those who do not by blaming the victim, is much the same. Women do the same thing by wearing clothes considered to be attractive, a high risk activity. The attractive women gains status by being attractive until she is raped and then she loses status by having “asked for it”.

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People conflate the concept of risk of harm with chance of gain. The reason these are confused is because it favors those with high status.

The most valuable thing that people of high status have is their status. Status is all zero-sum, so anything that raises the status of someone else lowers the status of those with high status. Because individuals who survive high risk activities gain in social status, some people have to lose status to make up for the individuals who gain. The lost status can be by dying, or by becoming maimed.

If people didn't actually die, there would be no status to be transferred except from those who already have it and they don't want to give it up. That is why people of high status feel it is ok for other high status individuals to do risky things in competition with other high status individuals. If some of those high status individuals are killed, their status gets transferred. But this is why you don't see poor low status individuals competing with high status individuals at doing risky things.

When this behavior becomes disastrous, is when high status individuals compel low status individuals to do risky things because there is no self-risk to produce a stabilizing effect. This is what happens with suicide bombers, and what lead to the financial crisis. Placing risky bets with other people's lives or money has no downside except to the people who lose if the bets fail and don't win if the bets succeed. This is why when those in congress have no children in the military they are not as careful about wars.

This is what the bet about global warming is about. If the wealthy are wrong and AGW happens, they lose status by being wrong. The people who live and work in areas that will be flooded lose more than that. If global warming actually kills enough people, the AGW deniers will “win” because the status of all those dead people gets redistributed by those with high money status, the same people who are now profiting from AGW denial.

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If you look at the link on the lost boys, the preferences of the females had nothing to do with who they married. That is still true in many places, probably most of the world women are still compelled by their male relatives to marry the person the male relatives have selected. Gaining sufficient status to marry a woman isn't about impressing her, it is about impressing her male relatives. What impresses them the most is having sisters or daughters you can give them in exchange.

Going to war doesn't raise a male's status relative to those who sent him there, it is only higher than those who die and those who get badly injured, including things like PTSD. The problem is that those who control the social power hierarchy don't allow anyone but those they choose to gain status in it.

How many of the “leaders” of the GOP were chickenhawks during Vietnam? What did those “leaders” do to attain the high status they now have? They sucked-up to those who had high status (i.e. wealth) and were selected by the whim of those high status individuals to gain status. They now have vastly more status than those who did go to Vietnam.

It is the lack of other opportunities to gain status that drives men to war. That lack of opportunity is perpetuated by the existing social power hierarchy.

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The difference might be to what extent participants are aware of the risks they take.

For instance, often times "professionals" are allowed to do things normal people can't -- like set of fireworks.

But it could be just a difference in local laws. Mt Everest is not located in a country that so strongly regulates human activity. Here in the US, you need a form of licensing to climb certain peaks, right?

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Mountain climbing in the US is pretty highly regulated (especially the necessary equipment) and climbing fees amount to a hefty tax.

Do you have any evidence of that? Aliens, RPs and HBs were made in people's garages with no regulation whatsoever. They were sold in the US until very recently. That changed becuase the people who made them died or retired, not because of regulation.

Which areas of the US accept that? The American climbers I know would start a revolution if anyone tried that.

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Some relevant previous posts are Naked Classism and Paternalism is About Respect. May not be sufficient evidence.

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Isn't this just paternalism? The elite ruling class assumes the underclass are not mentally capable of properly evaluating risks. Which is why they want to ban risks the underclass like/want to take -- like payday loans, noodling, riding a motorcycle without a helmet, etc.

Upper class dangerous activities -- mountain climbing, sailing, horseback riding, hedge funds -- are left largely unregulated because the elites assume they themselves are competent to judge the risks and properly weigh the risk vs reward.

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Sorry, I feel compelled to respond to Peter Gerdes, who says people assume that bicycle helmets ... are minor inconveniences that cost little utility relative to the lives they save.

When I rode motorcycles, I felt that a helmet hampered my vision, my hearing, and my mobility. I suppose being required to wear a blindfold would also be an "inconvenience".

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Couldn't we just split the difference and get middle-class British horses using Ecstasy?

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