When Do They Help, When Do They Hurt?

by Kenneth A. Solomon


Full Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.8 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.


Purchase Print Copy

 FormatList Price Price
Add to Cart Paperback28 pages $20.00 $16.00 20% Web Discount

The intent of a warning is both to advise of a future potential danger as well as to offer advice on how best to reduce one's exposure to that danger. While it is reasonable to advise of certain specific dangers, it would be highly unreasonable to warn against every potential danger. Hence, there are some circumstances where warning is merited and other circumstances where it is not. To determine when you should warn and when you should not, simply consider whether the warning is likely to do more good than harm. Warnings are good when they alert people to something latent or not obvious. For example, the fact that aluminum dust can explode under some circumstances is not generally obvious and should be warned against. The fact that a knife is very sharp and requires some degree of caution when being used is generally well understood by adults and is taught to children at a very young age. Warning people that knives are sharp may be more harmful than beneficial. People could become acclimated to warnings. There is a proper balance of when warnings are helpful and when they are a hindrance.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.