Protecting ourselves against the risks associated with modern technologies has emerged as a major public concern throughout the industrialized world. Searching for Safety is unique in its exposition of a theory that explains how and why risk taking makes life safer and exposes the high risk of avoiding change. The book covers a wide range, including how the human body, as well as plants, animals, and insects, cope with danger. Wildavsky asks whether piling on safety measures actually improves safety. While he agrees that society should sometimes try to prevent large-scale harm, he explains why a strategy of resilience—learning from error how to bounce back in better shape—is usually better. His intention is to shift the debate about risk from passive prevention of harm to an active search for safety. This book will be of special interest to those concerned with risk involving technology, health, safety, environmental protection, regulation, and more.


part I|98 pages


chapter 1|24 pages

Trial and Error Versus Trial Without Error

ByAaron Wildavsky

chapter 2|22 pages

Opportunity Benefits Versus Opportunity Risks

ByAaron Wildavsky

chapter 3|19 pages

Richer Is Sicker Versus Richer Is Safer*

ByAaron Wildavsky

chapter 4|30 pages

Anticipation Versus Resilience

ByAaron Wildavsky

part II|88 pages


chapter 5|15 pages

Nonhuman Life Forms Cope with Danger

ByAaron Wildavsky

chapter |24 pages

Does Adding Safety Devices Increase Safety in Nuclear Power Plants?

With Elizabeth Nichols, and an appendix by Robert Budnitz
ByElizabeth Nichols, Robert Budnitz

chapter |21 pages

The Battle Within

How the Human Body Defends Itself
ByDennis J. Coyle

chapter 8|20 pages

From Resilience to Anticipation

Why the Tort Law is Unsafe
ByDaniel Polisar

part III|44 pages


chapter 9|16 pages

Why Less is More

A Taxonomy of Error
ByWilliam R. Havender

chapter 10|26 pages

The Secret of Safety Lies in Danger

ByAaron Wildavsky