Scared of Fright

August 7, 2014

il_570xN.195406258 Fog bound Thursday morning here on California’s north coast, and quiet. Only folks up right now are insomniacs, meth-heads and me.
At least the weekend is only hours away.

Life nowadays appears as if on a fault line — if the heat don’t get you, Ebola will. Fright off all kinds of shit boil up on a regular basis, from diseases, guns, Tea Party dipwads, NSA stooges (and CIA stooges), politicians of any stripe, and even furry animals with huge-white stripes down the tail (skunk, dumb-ass). In this current state of affairs, being scared is sort of normal.

(Illustration found here).

And being frightened in a frightful situation is also normal, as in the ludicrous case of 19-year-old Jacob Lavoro, who was arrested last April for selling marijuana brownies — he faces five years to life in prison.
Yesterday in court again, Lavoro is deep in the heart of fucked-up Texas: “I’m scared. Very scared,” Lavoro said. “I’m 19 years old and still have a whole life ahead of me. Take that into account.”

On account of you being in Texas.

And being scared/frightful is in most cases a mind game — unless you’re in Gaza, or Iraq, or Liberia, or the Ukraine, or tonight in Hawaii where two hurricanes are approaching, or in a thousand other spots were death/injury/pants-shitting fright is part of the daily routine.
In the US, it’s mostly brain waves. Morgan House at The Motley Fool takes a look at the fright of scared (h/t The Big Picture), starting with flying:

This has been a deadly year for air travel, with more than 700 fatalities in the last four months.
But more than 700 people die in auto accidents every five hours.
Ebola has also been in the news this week, scaring people around the world.
Ebola has killed 1,590 people since it was identified in the 1970s, according to the World Health Organization.
Measles — which faces a vaccination backlash — kills about as many people every 96 hours.
The craziest thing about risk is that people fear what’s rare and unknown much more than they fear things that are common but deadly.

House references Gerd Gigerenzer’s ‘Risk Savvy: How to Make Good Decisions,’ and fear.

How many miles would you have to drive by car until the risk of dying is the same as in a nonstop flight?
I have asked this to dozens of expert audiences.
The answers are all over the place: one thousand miles, ten thousand miles, driving three times around the world.
However, the best estimate is twelve miles.
Yes, only twelve.
If your car makes it safely to the airport, the most dangerous part of your trip is likely already behind you.

People aren’t stupid.
The problem is that our educational system has an amazing blind spot concerning risk literacy.
We teach our children the mathematics of certainty — geometry and trigonometry — but not the mathematics of uncertainty, statistical thinking.
And we teach our children biology but not the psychology that shapes their fears and desires.
Even experts, shockingly, are not trained how to communicate risks to the public in an understandable way.
And there can be positive interest in scaring people: to get an article on the front page, to persuade people to relinquish civil rights, or to sell a product.
All these outside causes contribute to the problem.

And the problem is we scare ourselves stupid. House adds: Some tragedies become famous because they made good stories independent of their actual damage. The result is that certain things we’re most scared of aren’t that big a deal, while things we’re oblivious to can be major risks.

My fright is of everything — cars, women with too much lipstick, babies who look like puppies, anything with an ‘ex’ in front of it, even my own sad, pathetic shadow.
And right now, I’m scared of Thursdays, maybe Friday won’t get here.

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