A 10% chance of nuclear apocalypse?

According to a retired Stanford engineering, professor every human individual has a 10% of dying an unnatural death from a nuclear explosion.

Professor Emeritus Martin Hellman has been crunching probability statistics since the Cold War and has concluded that death-by-nukes is disturbingly likely.  He claims, for instance:

“The risk that each one of us dies as a result of failed deterrence is thousands of times greater than the risk you would bear if a nuclear power plant were built right next to your home.”

Hellman’s calculations serve, in his mind, to demonstrate that the US needs to lead a gradual phasing out of mankind’s nuclear arsenal. During the Reagan years, Hellman was involved in a left-wing movement to end the threat of nuclear war. This movement has, of course, been energized by former Reagan official George Shultz.

Whether Hellman’s numbers are accurate is impossible to know. Based a series of models and projections, he has constructed a rough probability.  Like any social science, however, his numbers are far from firm. As a general rule, it is difficult to quantify the messy, sometimes irrational thought processes of human decision-making.

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