Adonis Diaries

What drive panic attacks: Imminent danger or out of control situations?

Posted on: November 6, 2011

What drive panic attacks: Imminent possibility and out of control situations?

Fear is a most potent emotion that people intentionally capitalize on it to satisfy their objectives and purposes.  Fear is a combination of perceived high risks and level of current public outrage.  In general, as public outrage is fresh for a perceived imminent hazard, disseminated by interested institutions or “experts”, the higher this outrage the more powerful the emotions to overrun whatever is the actual real seriousness of the risk.

Suppose you are told that you have 5% chance of dying within an hour, or 40% chance within a year, which probability will drive your frenzied panic? If we try to recollect the dozens of situations that had the potential to kill us every day, we should be convinced that Russian roulette probability of one in six is a great advantage to the probabilities for our survival every single day. Most probably, we are panicked with the presence of the physician who divulged his expert opinion of our very soon death. The moment the physician is out of sight, things go back to normal, I think…If a God can guarantee that you will survive the day if your Russian roulette exercise is successful, you might live to be a thousand, at least, or you might not…

Suppose you know for fact that experiencing a plane problem (when flying…) is far less frequent than witnessing a problem when driving your car.  You know that you are Not a car mechanics, and even if you are you’ll not check your car every-time to get behind the wheel: Airplanes would not, or should not fly, before expert professional mechanics thoroughly check it.  What you refuse to remember is that chances of dying from a plane crash is far less frequent than driving your car, per year.  Yes, I extending your life year by year, instead of day by day…  Which means of transportation would you choose for the same driving duration and cost?

Actually, per-hour death rate is about Equal. So, if you don’t get out of your home frequently, and the airport is close to home, and you own your private jet…you might as well toss a coin?  People opt to drive their cars, even if they can afford airplanes, on the assumption that they have “total control over their cars…”  What control do you have over your car if you tend to fail checking the car before driving? What control you have over the other drivers…?

There are 40,000 car deaths per year compared to 1,000 by airplane. This fact is related to many more people driving longer hours their cars than boarding airplanes…

Suppose that you know (from available data-bases, see note 1) that kids younger than 10 year-old drown in private swimming pools is far greater frequency than kids visiting homes retaining a gun for “eventual protection cases…”, would you still prefer to send your kid to families having a swimming pool and not having a gun?

A kid drown in a private swimming pool out of 11,000, and the US has 6 million such private swimming pool.  A kid is shot out of one million homes carrying a gun, out of over 200 million such “well protected” homes.

Suppose you know the private swimming pool that your kid visits satisfies all the regulations of fenced pool, locked back door…would you still send your kid without a personal watchful adult, whom you have total confidence that he will keep an eye every second, and he is licensed as swimming guard…?

Suppose that you finally realized that catching a terrible disease from food in your kitchen is far more frequent than rare cases of mad-cow prions, would you still get that outraged on the imminent danger of a mad-cow disease?

As Peter Sandman said: “Risks that you think have control over are much less a source of outrage than risks that are out of your control.  The basic reality is that the risks that scare people (to death) and the risks that actually kill people are very different…”

Experts on risks and dangers are not making things any easier on concerned citizens: It is in their advantage to encourage emotional outrage in the public in order to get higher visibility and recognition, instead of analyzing the problem from various perspectives…

Obsessive parents invest plenty of money for securing against risks that are virtually barely dangerous or frequent per year and in the USA, such as ten kids dying from flame-retardant pajamas, fewer than 5 for keeping children away from car airbags, two for safety drawstring on children’s clothing…

Parents worry too much and refuse to let go, as if a child could not die a hundred times a day for one thing or another.  But parents think that they have the entire responsibility over their shoulders for the most “precious thing” they decided to raise and keep with their own volition…

Note 1: There are plenty of data-bases for almost any kind of research you might want to undertake.  The hitch is that you cannot extract cause and effect relationship from data not done under experimental control.  You may still torture the data until data divulge the mystery behind the story, kind of discovering correlations and how the trend is progressing.  You can find troves of useful and valid hypotheses to experiment on and demonstrate cause and effect…Read my posts in the category “Human Factors in Engineering”

Note 2: Post inspired from a portion of a chapter in “Freakonomics” by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s




November 2011

Blog Stats

  • 1,516,019 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by

Join 822 other subscribers
%d bloggers like this: