Obsession with Safety = No Adventure
The obsession with 100% safety and the absolute intolerance for any fatalities is, as far as I'm concerned, one of the main reasons we've have no Age of Space Discovery (1492-17th century) losses were very high. One would think that it would be easy to find data on just how dangerous it was but after spending a half hour in futility I can't give any detailed information. But suffice to say that many ships went down, more than one expedition disappeared entirely. Columbus, during his first voyage, lost one of his three ships and barely made it home after hitting a severe storm on his way home.
If people of the Age of Discovery had the same intolerance for risk that investors, scientists, government, etc. have today, I'd be living somewhere in Europe with no clue that the Americas even exist.
I've written on the Mars One program in the past -- the planned one-way trip to Mars to explore and establish a colony -- and this week I saw an article on that program that piqued my interest. It features yet another wet-blanket researched railing against the idea of such an expedition because there are (gasp) risks of death: Mars One plan has potentially deadly flaws, scientists say.
No kidding. Well, the Santa Maria had potentially deadly flaws too, being a Renaissance carrack, and ran aground. It was the best technology they had at the time, though, and Columbus didn't feel like waiting 400 years for maritime technology to advance to the safety of a modern ship. But would modern ships have ever been developed if no one took to the sea because older vessels had "potentially deadly flaws?"
Dr. Sydney Doe, of the MIT kill-joy research team, says: "Someone has to ask themselves: Am I ready to rely on this technology which has been tested for two years to operate for an extra 50 years, since my life is dependent on it?" Well, the Canadians on the Mars One short list, at least, are ready to rely on the technology.
Tyler Reyno, from Nova Scotia, said "Obviously, keeping humans alive on Mars is extremely difficult. You just have to understand there's a lot of uncertainty and a lot of unknowns and those who are passionate and inspired will understand that and do it anyway."
Exploration of any kind just can't happen without risk. I suspect that the modern aversion to deadly risk is at least in part due to the widespread lack of belief in the afterlife. If this is all you've got, then you want to live as long as possible. Maybe it's also part of a life filled with too much comfort.