OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this article is to describe how to address patients' past-and future potential-radiation exposures when making an imaging decision in a given situation. CONCLUSION. The Biologic Effects of Ionizing Radiation committee has endorsed a linear no-threshold model to explain the relationship between radiation exposure and cancer risk. This model implies that past and future potential exposures should not impact current decisions. We present an analogy that deconstructs these counterintuitive conclusions and facilitates translation of key radiation risk principles to practice.