Thursday, January 26, 2006

Perception of Death

Okay, the title is a bit misleading. I would make a crappy copy editor. Or is it headline editor?

I am fascinated with perceptions – it is one thing that drives me. Take risky behavior – no, not that kind of behavior, but everyday behavior (to some, perhaps they are thinking of the same thing).

Airplanes vs. Cars
We have millions of people who are afraid of flying in airplanes – heck, the insurance industry used to pray on people with kiosks, selling insurance to people like, er, me. I am about to get on a plane, and for a dollar, I can purchase insurance. Sort of like buying a lottery ticket, but instead of me living in the lap of luxury, I get to be buried in a Coffee can and my heirs get to live in the lap of luxury. Already, I do not like where my thoughts are going.

Getting back on point: millions of Americans are afraid of flying. But they think nothing of driving to the airport, and statistically, you are much more likely to be killed if you are behind the wheel of your own car than in the seat of an airplane. Well, if you have severe peanut allergies, perhaps the particles in the air at the moment 53 passengers open their complementary peanuts may cause your airway to close tightly, ending your life. But again, that is highly unlikely for most of us.

Lightning vs. Cooking
Another point – being killed by lightning. I am in a dark mood today. Lightning scares me – I admit it. If I hear lightning, I convince myself the next bolt is going to find me, causing massive damage to my hair and other body parts. God must like lightning, because I know I am more communicative during such lightning storms (oh, and God, if you are reading this and other comments, sorry about lusting after ~deb; we are just friends, okay?). But more people get killed in the kitchen – either cooking, getting stabbed by a wife/lover because you didn't bring home roses, whatever. It is a scientific fact. If you don't believe me, come over and I will cook for you. Perception verses reality – sometime is scary.

Lottery vs. Dead Rich Uncle Ed
Lots of us play the lottery. Heck, you can buy tickets when you are getting gas, buying condoms at a convenience store, or even going to some state fairs. Next, hookers are going to be selling those little $1 fantasies (I am talking about the lottery tickets, people).

But the chances of getting a winning lottery ticket (the millions winners, not the $3 winners) is well, really small. Otherwise, all of us would fill our retirement funds with lottery tickets/winnings. Most of us don't know all of our family, right. So the chance of you having a long lost Uncle Ed kick the bucket and give his entire fortune to you, his second cousin, twice removed, is about as likely. And it doesn't cost you a dollar.

Perception verses reality – the third example sort of sucked, but you know, I just ran out of steam. Actually, the second example was not that hot either.

One other thing worth considering – and I saw this on a graph once. The graph depicted number of deaths and cause of death – basically showing how risky certain things were. "Being in a hospital" was much more risky than most other things – airplane travel (unless your last name is Kennedy), knife juggling, even eating raw fish (known as sushi for all of you California types). Two side notes: (1) I understand that just being in a hospital is not the dangerous part; we are talking about being a patient (the deaths were attributed to "hospital error" not disease state), and (2) I may have mis-remembered some of the risks highlighted in the graph. Give me a break, it wasn't like I thought I would ever need that kernel of knowledge in the future.

So hug babies, juggle knives, eat cold pizza, and ride on airplanes. They are a lot safer than the good ol' morning commute that we perform 200 or so days per year.


Amber said...

Maybe people fear airplanes because it's such a huge machine and they have a sense of being absolutely out of control. In a car, since you're driving, you feel more in control. Also, most people have seen lots of plane crash pictures and they're always horrible, and while they've also seen plenty of horrible car crashes, there's the element of "that could never happen to me -- I'm a good driver."

Or not. Sorry about the rambling. I'm not totally awake yet.

Mike said...

If only my perceptions could become people's

Leesa said...

amber: makes sense to me. I think I will elaborate about this next week. You see, it is my turn to write something on Just Walking, and I am unsure how to further the story. Initially, I was going to have the main character give the taxi driver a hand job, but this doesn't work on several fronts:

(1) I found out recently that you can actually use plastic to pay for taxis. You can tell I don't live in NYC!

(2) Not sure a macho main character would do this.

(3) demographic studies show that (a) straight or lesbian sex is good for ratings, and (b) gay sex is bad for ratings.

So I am using all of this energy trying to figure out what comes next. So my blog will suffer (not my problem; I don't read what I write) temporarily. You gave me an idea for filler. Er, I mean a significant literary expression that should be viewed by 40,000 (I just pulled that number out of a hat).

mike: I perceive more work for less pay. And, son of a bitch, I think it will turn into a reality.

Joe said...

From what I recall, getting into a car with someone named Kennedy might not be a great idea either.

I think the plane thing has a lot to do with someone else controlling your fate. I know I'm a lot more comfortable driving than I am being a passenger.

And finally, if I give you a dollar, will you consider fantasizing about me at some point? I think I'd rather have that happen than play the lottery.

Mike said...

lol....funny how perception works huh?

Shannon said...

Well this was interesting lol... But it is all true of course, people worry about alot of things that are truley not as troublesome as what we do in our daily lives. Thanks for reminding me....I am keeping my hubby out of the kitchen!! =)

~Deb said...

Great post! Statistics show that you are more car accidents than there are plane accidents. I guess the question is, what scenario would you rather an accident---on the ground? Or in the air. I think the whole idea of the plane going nose down and “waiting” to die is an absolute horror to most people. They have time to think, “Oh shit! I’m dying!”

Now I'm too nervous to get in my car! See what you've done!???

Leesa said...

joe: I thought of the other Kennedy joke while writing this, but I left that one open. Thanks for connecting the dots. And, by the way, I love your post today (yesterday).

mike: actually, that makes perception very powerful.

shannon: my hubbie can go as far as the sink (I have not heard a lot about men drowning like turkeys in the kitchen. So he gets to wash pans.

~deb: be conforted in the fact that once you lose cabin pressure, you are fairly likely to be unconscience for most of the rest of the ride. In a car, you could be pinned inside and waiting to bleed to death (unless you have a vehicle equipt with On-Star). Just wanted to comfort you, dear.

Kalani said...

I am fascinated with perceptions

Me too, big time. Human nature enthralls me.

Sorry about the bubbly ass suprise ;)

And isn't Joe just a doll?

mg said...

Great observations ;)

I spent a lot of time in pain from a car accident a few years back... drunk driver, everyone went to the hospital because of her stupidity.. long story short, I was terrified of cars for the longest time.

Then I learned how to ride, and bought my motorcycle. That did wonders for my comfort & confidence level ;)

Life is too freakin short to be afraid of living it!


Sheen V said...

I take the train to the airport. flying used to frazzle me, but I've done it so much that its no bother anymore. I'm the type who goes on the tallest and fastest rollercoaster first so then everything after that is a cake walk.

Edtime Stories said...

It appears that you have tapped into something viseral for people. I am always amazed by the people who fear flying and yet speed down a highway free of care. But statistics aside most plane crashes end with "all aboard were killed" while many walk away from car accidents as I have. Oh well, this is how experience effects reality.

I think this is all about our inability to understand probablity and large numbers. Couple that with superstition and you have a formula for reality to get lost in the shuffle. Want to see this at work watch a slot machine player. Even the best machines pay out $.97 for every dollar put in, yet slots are seen as winnable with systems and rituals. However they operate as a simple random number generator.

Be well Leesa...I like this new style of posts.

Video X said...

i'm not really afraid of dying. not saying i havent been a bit worried on a plane before. i used to think the turbulence was fun...then my brother explained it's actually very dangerous. but still...i just think it would be a quick death and that's all i care about.

Prata said...

And this is why they drop oxygen masks in planes. So that you become docile. *nods sagely*

Oxygen creates a euphoric sensation. So really, even if the cabin loses pressure you'll not really be caring about it too much to be overly concerned.

Memphis Steve said...

Yeah, I don't have any rich uncles, but I understand your point. It never ceases to amaze me all the well-educated people around me spending all their extra cash on lottery tickets. I used to ask, "didn't you take any math classes?" but now I just smile and say nothing. Sometimes people just need hope, even if it's a hope in something that'll never be.

Girl Next Door said...

I like airplanes and I like thunderstorms. Does this make me dangerous?

I liked what Amber said. We do tend to relax more with the common. I've watched my mom nearly pull plates on her head a million times and a million times I've said, "Look out."

So ya, give me the airplane.


Leesa said...

kalani: A little surprised, but nice bubbles.

mean_girl: wow, interesting story.

sheen: in Georgia, if you are not a load of coal or other cargo, I am unsure if there is a train for you to travel with.

ed: thanks. I ran out of meds, what can I say?

VX: dying scares me to death.

prata: I think they actually will be pumping some sort of laughing gas to quiet the passengers while the plane is hurling towards the earth.

memphis steve: I just thank them for volunteering to fund education.

GNDTX: yeah, I have read some of your stories. You are a tad on the wild side.

kathi said...

Well, I've totaled 5 cars and walked away each time...(well, except for once, but I did walk away from the hospital). Times up when times up.
Thanks for the visual of losing conscience in the cabin versus being pinned in a car... Whatever happened to horse drawn carriages? :)

Leesa said...

kathi: sorry for the visual. As I recall, horse drawn carriages are not very economical. I was in one, it went up and down a touristy area, and hubbie shelled out like $40. And I could not even pet the horse. What a rip-off.