Massad Ayoob on Low Odds, High Stakes Events

“We can’t base our choices on averages because the very fact that you need to fire a gun to survive means that you’re already in a statistically improbable situation. There’s no such thing as a ‘statistically average aberration of the statistics.’ Better to prepare for the worst case scenario.”

Massad Ayoob, “”The Semi-Auto Advantage,” Guns Digest (Spring 2015), p. 17.

Another quote found in my “Pascal’s Wager” folder of notes for my book. We know from decision science that determining a rational response to a low odds, high stakes event is difficult. Hence Ayoob’s conclusion to prepare for the worst, even as we hope for the best.

Or as John Johnston told my students, “No one NEEDS a gun . . . until they do.”

Spend your risk currency wisely.

Massad Ayoob and David Yamane at MAG-40 course, Phoenix, AZ, November 2012. Photo by Sandra Stroud Yamane

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  1. , “No one NEEDS a gun . . . until they do.” There’s a Churchill quote along these lines, about a gentleman’s need for a revolver.


  2. I have a fire extinguisher in each car, two in the house, and one in the garage. I used a fire extinguisher to put out a fire exactly once: in 1983. I managed to get a gasoline fire going in the VW Rabbit and was beating on it furiously with my shirt. Guy came along and pulled a fire extinguisher out of his own car and put out the fire.

    When the fire department is minutes away…


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