What should you worry about?

April 10, 2007

What sorts of risks should you worry about? My previous post illustrated my surprise that contracting AIDS is much less likely than I thought [STDs are still a problem]. I used the odds of dying in a car accident as the baseline risk because it’s something that doesn’t worry me at all, yet it is quite high. Take a look at this graphic illustration of your odds of dying by various external causes. The odds of dying in a motor vehicle accident is 1 in 84. The only causes with higher odds are heart disease (1/5), cancer (1/7) and stroke (1/24). Consequently, I became a vegetarian, exercise regularly, never smoke nor chew tobacco, and am sort of a health nut. This doesn’t eliminate the odds of dying by these causes, but that’s all anyone can do to reduce those odds substantially.

People have a terrible sense of risk. The US government spends $100s of billions to protect us against terrorism, yet the odds of dying in a terrorist attack are infinitely small. There was lots of talk, and some terrible movies, about the remote risk of a large asteroid hitting the planet and wiping out humanity. Women are terrified of rape by a stranger, though date rape is far more common (80%). My mother was worried about murder rates in NYC since I moved here, but it turns out NYC is now one of the safest big cities in the country (safer than her city!). Furthermore, in NYC roughly 1/3 of murders are gang/drug related and 1/3 are disputes between people who know each other; therefore, the real risk for me is extremely low. Most of the things people worry about are irrational, while some things they don’t worry about (global warming) are a real and immediate risk.

So what do I worry about? Drivers in New York and New Jersey are so bad it does make me uncomfortable, so I take public transportation most of the time. I’m a little cautious about household accidents after I drove a knife through my hand. Not much else after that. What are you worried about?

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2 Responses to “What should you worry about?”

  1. pareidoliac Says:

    One should not worry about anything. It is a neurotic trait. Perhaps at most, one should be concerned about some things, as we are in physical bodies. Ultimately though, there is no life, death, good or evil. It might appear as if there is if one buys into Descartes dual philosophy, but if one looks at everything as a pattern like a whirlpool, one sees that we merely return to the universal river, and even death is nothing to “worry” about. We are not born “into” the universe as there is no “outside” the universe. Lighten up= enlightenment. As Alfred E. Neuman said “What me worry?.” Or as Mr. Natural said, “It don’t mean sh*t.

  2. dsubnet0 Says:

    Well, you lump together what people are worried about and what they take steps to prevent, which are not necessarily the same things. Sometimes we’ll try to prevent something very unlikely, just so we can feel like we’re not weak, passive nancy-boys with small penises. Terrorism is an “actionable” issue(and it doesn’t hurt that a lot of silly human emotions are tied up in it, which always wins votes).

    I know I’ve found MYself installing new shoelaces in my shoes because I don’t know how to fix my DVD player (“well, at least I’ve got that shoelace issue in the BAG, motherfucker” i scream to the silent television)


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