Reading Comprehension: Questions 28-30 are based on the following passage.
Without some appreciation of common large numbers, itâ€™s impossible to react with the proper skepticism to terrifying reports that more than a million American kids are kidnapped each year, or with the proper sobriety to a warhead carrying a megaton of explosive powerâ€”the equivalent of a million tons (ortwo billion pounds) of TNT. And if you donâ€™t have some feeling for probabilities, automobile accidents might seem a relatively minor problem of local travel, whereas being killed by terrorists might seem to be a major risk when going overseas. As often observed, however, the 45,000 people killed annually on American roads are approximately equal in number to all American dead in the Vietnam War. On the other hand, the seventeen Americans killed by terrorists in 1985 were among the 28 million of us who traveled abroad that yearâ€”thatâ€™s one chance in 1.6 million of becoming a victim. Compare that with these annual rates in the United States: one chance in 68,000 of choking to death; one chance in 75,000 of dying in a bicycle crash; one chance in 20,000 of drowning; and one chance in only 5,300 of dying in a car crash.
Confronted with these large numbers and with the correspondingly small probabilities associated with them, the innumerate will inevitably respond with the non sequitur,1 â€œYes, but what if youâ€™re that one,â€ and then nod knowingly, as if theyâ€™ve demolished your argument with penetrating insight. This tendency to personalize is a characteristic of many who suffer from innumeracy. Equally typical is a tendency to equate the risk from some obscure and exotic malady with the chances of suffering from heart and circulatory disease, from which about 12,000 Americans die each week. Thereâ€™s a joke I like thatâ€™s marginally relevant. An old married couple in their nineties contact a divorce lawyer, who pleads with them to stay together. â€œWhy get divorced now after seventy years of marriage?â€ The little old lady finally pipes up in a creaky voice: â€œWe wanted to wait until the children were dead.â€ A feeling for what quantities or time spans are appropriate in various contexts is essential to getting the joke. Slipping between millions and billions or between billions and trillions should in this sense be equally funny, but it isnâ€™t, because we too often lack an intuitive grasp for these numbers. A recent study by Drs. Kronlund and Phillips of the University of Washington showed that most doctorsâ€™ assessments of the risks of various operations, procedures, and medications (even in their own specialties) were way off the mark, often by several orders of magnitude. I once had a conversation with a doctor who, within approximately 20 minutes, stated that a certain procedure he was contemplating (a) had a one-chance-in-amillion risk associated with it; (b) was 99 percent safe; and c usually went quite well. Given the fact that so many doctors seem to believe that there must be at least eleven people in the waiting room if theyâ€™re to avoid being idle, Iâ€™m not surprised at this new evidence of their innumeracy.
Which of the following can be inferred to be the authorâ€™s view of the â€œreports that more than a million American kids are kidnapped each yearâ€ (line 2)?*