In this bonkers ambulance chasing blame culture we now inhabit it seems like we've lost whatever ability we may have had to correctly evaluate risk.
Take for example how Bury St Edmonds Council have Banned Hanging Baskets because they might fall on someone's head. Might being the operative word given ROSPA haven't recorded a single case of this happening in the past 40 years. It's the same state of mind which leads to people buying national lottery tickets, worry about rail safety and yet smoke or drive quickly past school gates.
Anyone who has been through an illness or pregnancy will likely been asked to make difficult decisions based on odds, e.g. risk of various birth defects following a scan, risk of miscarriage following amniocentesis, etc.
Here's a simple technique to help in such circumstances. Given the odds 40-1:
- imagine throwing a dice with 40 sides and it coming up '1'.
- if it's a risk which you really don't want to occur, imagine pointing a gun at your head with 40 chambers and a single bullet and then pulling the trigger.
Ignorance of chance can work to your advantage. In 1991 two former bookmakers travelled around the UK placing bets on there being a hole-in-one at golf tournaments. They received high odds making them a large amount of money before the betting industry realised that there are several hole-in-ones at most every event.