Added remarks of clarification:

1. This post is not saying that no disasters ever happen.

2. It also isn't saying that no one should ever try to avoid disasters.

3. It is saying that people greatly over-predict disasters, i.e., most predicted disasters do not occur. Notice how this is compatible with points 1 and 2.

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"Despite sky diving, drunk driving, playing Russian roulette, and abusing hard drugs, I have yet to die. Therefore, these risks are likely overstated and I can be calm." In this scenario, it is clear that someone is suffering from survivorship bias. A person who has died is not around to talk about deadly risks they've averted.

On the global scale, we have no other references. In fact, the lack of other alien civilizations might be a cause for concern, pointing toward a great filter we perhaps have not yet passed. If we were to imagine millions of universes that ended due to existential disaster, I think they would all claim that "nothing has yet killed everyone on earth!" I am not sure that this is a reason to remain calm.

Killer bees and Y2K might be rather silly, but there are legitimate global existential risks that we should take very seriously [1]. Even small chances of eliminating all existing life pose a tremendously large cost to possible welfare. Fanaticism about world-ending disasters is likely much better than being calm from a moral perspective.

[1] https://nickbostrom.com/existential/risks

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Without the counterfactual, it’s hard to know whether Y2K was a nothingburger, or there indeed were some disastrous potential flaws in critical infrastructure, but the alarm was raised in time for these to be found and eliminated before the deadline.

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All agreed! The most serious one now, of course, is AI...

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