5 of 5
5
The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity
Posted: 14 August 2009 02:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 61 ]
Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  120
Joined  2009-07-13

And let’s go back to my post #21: “Flying is safer on all the important criteria: time between accidents, distance between accidents, etc. So you are demonstrably more likely to survive to your destination if you fly than if you drive. (That is, if you fly on a commercial airliner. IIRC private planes are significantly less safe).”

And I do agree with this.  I did forget about your mention of the commercial airliner.  We’ve discussed much in a short amount of time.  I do agree that flying commercially is safer, but my original intent was that of flying in general. 

If you made that determination, it would be an example of poor reasoning. It’s precisely the same as the person who takes homeopathic drugs and believes that they cured her of the mumps and so believes that homeopathic drugs are effective. Classic example of irrationality.

And when I said “I ignore it because it’s irrational” I mean that I ignore it as a separate source of information as valid as the statistical data.

When you claim that you can find conflicting statistics about anything you’re just engaging in obfuscation. If you really believed that, then you’d believe that science was an exercise in futility.

When I mentioned personal experience, I did not mean that it is a separate source.  In regard to that one person’s experience, they could be a statistical anomaly.  Only, I think that it is something that is reasonable to be considered with statistical information as well as other factors.

OK, apologize if I misconstrued your own nonexistent fear of flying.

No problem.  I just wanted to make it completely clear that I wasn’t defending myself.

I cannot prove that it is irrational in any capacity to have a fear of flying—there may be some odd case where it is rational given the contrast class. The salient example is to fear flying more than something else, in this case, driving. Or to be pedantic about it, flying in a commercial airliner with a trained crew rather than driving.

There is something that I mentioned earlier about having a state of unfamiliarity that I do think plays into that.  You can suspect that the pilot is well trained, well rested and sober but you don’t really know for sure unless you meet him.  That would be the same as driving, too.  If I hailed a taxi and got in and the back seat was blocked off from the front so I could not see the driver or his identification, I would be terrified.  I will say that it is rational to suspect that the pilot is well trained and capable since he is a professional.  But I think that having the fear of uncertainty is also a rational one since that is the way people think.  Maybe what I am getting at is it is rational to understand why the people have the fear.

But also something that I mentioned earlier and Ian Mortimer discussed briefly.  The element of control.  I agree with you that there is an illusion while driving that makes the driver think he has complete control when he doesn’t since he can’t control nature or other people.  And you said something along the lines of “on the plane, you shouldn’t have control” essentially because the pilot is a trained professional with sophisticated computer systems.  I agree with all of that.  However, I don’t think that even the pilot has complete control.  In the case of bad weather, the driver can pull over and rest.  If the car has a flat tire, you can pull over and change it.  If the engine quits on the car, you can simply get out and walk away.  Not that it means if engines quit on a plane then it will just fall from the sky (since planes can glide) but having no functioning engine sure complicates things.  It could very well be not necessarily the fear of death, but possibly the fear of mechanical failure.  Mechanical failures on aircraft (aircraft in general) have pretty devastating effects.  These effects seem less significant for driving. 

No, as I say, I dispute that claim. I believe that the only way he got “trips” to be safer for driving is by including data from non-commercial airliners.

The other, related question is which is the more appropriate statistical analysis to use: trips or distance? Well, given that the vast majority of auto trips will be short (the trip into work or to the market), one should prefer driving for short distances. But we knew that already. Using the “trips” analysis for the sort of trip one might actually choose to take a commercial airliner for, OTOH, would be completely absurd.

That is to say, there’s only a relevant comparison with trip lengths that are big enough so we can actually reasonably choose between taking a plane or taking a car. And in that case, the plane wins, hands down. And in that case, once again, it is irrational to choose the car if by doing so you are intending to make yourself safer.

I’m sure it included non-commercial airliners.  But this isn’t really a statistic we can rely on for the discussion if you are debating non-commercial specifically and I am debating flying in general.  I think to compare flying vs. driving fairly, one would have to only include accidents that take place while traveling long distances.  I’m not sure if that would even be possible.  Maybe if it only included accidents that happen on highways.  At any rate, you would have to exclude parking lot fenderbenders and accidents involving only one party who was impaired, such as a drunk driver hitting a tree.

 Signature 

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” - Seneca

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 August 2009 02:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 62 ]
Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  120
Joined  2009-07-13
dougsmith - 14 August 2009 01:45 PM
thoswm - 14 August 2009 01:14 PM
dougsmith - 14 August 2009 12:49 PM

I’ve got a different idea. Perhaps it wouldn’t help things along here, but it might. Why don’t you try to give some examples of irrational thinking and/or actions, and describe why you view them as irrational and how you would distinguish them from rational ones.

If this is something that we need to get into, then alright.  But first, I would like you to address my latest post.  I’m not convinced that we have been debating the same topic.

I’m pretty convinced we are, and think it is something we definitely need to get into, since so far I can’t see yet how you have any account of irrational thinking.

I would account irrational thinking as being something for which there is absolutely no evidence for.  Fearing venomous snakes is rational since you know they can kill you.  Fearing snakes period, if you can’t tell the difference between snakes, can be rational since you know some snakes are venomous.  I would say that being afraid of a puppy would be irrational since there is no supporting evidence that the puppy can cause you serious harm (the exception being for someone allergic).  If someone was afraid that the sun was going to fall out of the sky, I would call that irrational since there is no evidence supporting the claim.  Believing that the government was secretly behind 9/11 is irrational because there is no reason to believe it.  There is no scientific evidence supporting the claims, yet there is overwhelming, obvious evidence supporting that it was caused by terrorists.  I think your example of the sock earlier was a great example.  A fear of wearing socks would be irrational.  A fear of wearing socks on say, a freshly waxed floor is rational since you could fall.  That doesn’t mean fear as in “phobia,” but something that causes you to be concerned.

 Signature 

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” - Seneca

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 August 2009 02:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 63 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15395
Joined  2006-02-14
thoswm - 14 August 2009 02:37 PM

There is something that I mentioned earlier about having a state of unfamiliarity that I do think plays into that.  You can suspect that the pilot is well trained, well rested and sober but you don’t really know for sure unless you meet him.  That would be the same as driving, too.  If I hailed a taxi and got in and the back seat was blocked off from the front so I could not see the driver or his identification, I would be terrified.  I will say that it is rational to suspect that the pilot is well trained and capable since he is a professional.  But I think that having the fear of uncertainty is also a rational one since that is the way people think.  Maybe what I am getting at is it is rational to understand why the people have the fear.

But it is an irrational fear. The likelihood of the pilot being inebriated is extremely low. Can you imagine someone next to you in the airplane claiming to be terrified because he hadn’t been able to witness whether or not the pilot had been on a bender?

thoswm - 14 August 2009 02:37 PM

But also something that I mentioned earlier and Ian Mortimer discussed briefly.  The element of control.  I agree with you that there is an illusion while driving that makes the driver think he has complete control when he doesn’t since he can’t control nature or other people.  And you said something along the lines of “on the plane, you shouldn’t have control” essentially because the pilot is a trained professional with sophisticated computer systems.  I agree with all of that.  However, I don’t think that even the pilot has complete control.  In the case of bad weather, the driver can pull over and rest.  If the car has a flat tire, you can pull over and change it.  If the engine quits on the car, you can simply get out and walk away.  Not that it means if engines quit on a plane then it will just fall from the sky (since planes can glide) but having no functioning engine sure complicates things.  It could very well be not necessarily the fear of death, but possibly the fear of mechanical failure.  Mechanical failures on aircraft (aircraft in general) have pretty devastating effects.  These effects seem less significant for driving. 

Again, we can all come up with cases where driving appears safer. But these are irrelevant to the general case.

I’ve also heard professional pilots say that it’s obvious to them that piloting is safer than driving (they all, of course, drive cars): they are in a nearly empty sky, all the other pilots are highly trained professionals, and they’re under nearly constant scrutiny by aircraft control. None of those things is true of driving.

... and then there’s the statistics, that clinch the case.

thoswm - 14 August 2009 02:37 PM

I think to compare flying vs. driving fairly, one would have to only include accidents that take place while traveling long distances.  I’m not sure if that would even be possible.  Maybe if it only included accidents that happen on highways.  At any rate, you would have to exclude parking lot fenderbenders and accidents involving only one party who was impaired, such as a drunk driver hitting a tree.

I believe the relevant statistic is deaths and injuries per mile. Then if you’re interested in making a thousand mile trip, you can do the calculation.

Since it isn’t possible to get a commercial airliner to take you from your house to the shopping center, that won’t be a meaningful comparison.

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 August 2009 02:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 64 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15395
Joined  2006-02-14
thoswm - 14 August 2009 02:47 PM

I would account irrational thinking as being something for which there is absolutely no evidence for.  Fearing venomous snakes is rational since you know they can kill you.  Fearing snakes period, if you can’t tell the difference between snakes, can be rational since you know some snakes are venomous.  I would say that being afraid of a puppy would be irrational since there is no supporting evidence that the puppy can cause you serious harm (the exception being for someone allergic).  If someone was afraid that the sun was going to fall out of the sky, I would call that irrational since there is no evidence supporting the claim.  Believing that the government was secretly behind 9/11 is irrational because there is no reason to believe it.  There is no scientific evidence supporting the claims, yet there is overwhelming, obvious evidence supporting that it was caused by terrorists.  I think your example of the sock earlier was a great example.  A fear of wearing socks would be irrational.  A fear of wearing socks on say, a freshly waxed floor is rational since you could fall.  That doesn’t mean fear as in “phobia,” but something that causes you to be concerned.

Hmm. On the one hand, you say that irrational thinking is believing something for which there’s absolutely no evidence.

And then on the other hand you give a few examples that you call irrational, and where you also [sometimes] admit there’s some evidence for believing them. [And sometimes it’s possible to come up with additional evidence]. E.g.:

Puppies are benign: some people are allergic to them.
Sun falling out of the sky: we know the sun will actually increase in size and potentially swallow up the earth.
Government behind 9/11: the conspiracy nuts on this claim to have all kinds of evidence in favor of their theories. (We have a whole thread on that in the forum ...)
Socks are benign: dangerous on a freshly waxed floor

So all of these examples have some evidence in favor of them, hence by your own lights, they all should be rational.

So I’m still back to wondering what you consider to be an irrational belief. I should add that I don’t think there are any beliefs for which there’s absolutely no evidence.

[ Edited: 14 August 2009 03:05 PM by dougsmith ]
 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 August 2009 03:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 65 ]
Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  120
Joined  2009-07-13
dougsmith - 14 August 2009 02:56 PM
thoswm - 14 August 2009 02:47 PM

I would account irrational thinking as being something for which there is absolutely no evidence for.  Fearing venomous snakes is rational since you know they can kill you.  Fearing snakes period, if you can’t tell the difference between snakes, can be rational since you know some snakes are venomous.  I would say that being afraid of a puppy would be irrational since there is no supporting evidence that the puppy can cause you serious harm (the exception being for someone allergic).  If someone was afraid that the sun was going to fall out of the sky, I would call that irrational since there is no evidence supporting the claim.  Believing that the government was secretly behind 9/11 is irrational because there is no reason to believe it.  There is no scientific evidence supporting the claims, yet there is overwhelming, obvious evidence supporting that it was caused by terrorists.  I think your example of the sock earlier was a great example.  A fear of wearing socks would be irrational.  A fear of wearing socks on say, a freshly waxed floor is rational since you could fall.  That doesn’t mean fear as in “phobia,” but something that causes you to be concerned.

Hmm. On the one hand, you say that irrational thinking is believing something for which there’s absolutely no evidence.

And then on the other hand you give a few examples that you call irrational, and where you also [sometimes] admit there’s some evidence for believing them. [And sometimes it’s possible to come up with additional evidence]. E.g.:

Puppies are benign: some people are allergic to them.
Sun falling out of the sky: we know the sun will actually increase in size and potentially swallow up the earth.
Government behind 9/11: the conspiracy nuts on this claim to have all kinds of evidence in favor of their theories. (We have a whole thread on that in the forum ...)
Socks are benign: dangerous on a freshly waxed floor

So all of these examples have some evidence in favor of them, hence by your own lights, they all should be rational.

So I’m still back to wondering what you consider to be an irrational belief. I should add that I don’t think there are any beliefs for which there’s absolutely no evidence.

There is rationality in fear for many things.  That is why I presented two sides to each of those (with the exception to the sun).  Fearing the sun will fall out the sky is different.  That is based around the belief that the sun revolves around the earth.  My point on the socks, it’s irrational to fear without the waxed floor.  It’s irrational to fear the puppy when you’re not allergic.  “So all of these examples have some evidence in favor of them, hence by your own lights, they all should be rational.” - You are asserting that I feel that it would be rational for someone to fear the puppy when not allergic.  This is not the case.  It is not rational to fear if the conditions don’t apply.

 Signature 

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” - Seneca

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 August 2009 03:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 66 ]
Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  120
Joined  2009-07-13

I think to compare flying vs. driving fairly, one would have to only include accidents that take place while traveling long distances.  I’m not sure if that would even be possible.  Maybe if it only included accidents that happen on highways.  At any rate, you would have to exclude parking lot fenderbenders and accidents involving only one party who was impaired, such as a drunk driver hitting a tree.

I believe the relevant statistic is deaths and injuries per mile. Then if you’re interested in making a thousand mile trip, you can do the calculation.

Since it isn’t possible to get a commercial airliner to take you from your house to the shopping center, that won’t be a meaningful comparison.

I’m not sure if you understand what I was getting at.  I’m saying that deaths and injuries per mile for air travel should compare only to deaths and injuries per mile for the driving of trips of equal distances.  The current comparison is meaningless for the very reason that you cannot get a commercial airliner to take you from your house to the shopping center.

 Signature 

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” - Seneca

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 August 2009 06:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 67 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15395
Joined  2006-02-14
thoswm - 14 August 2009 03:22 PM

There is rationality in fear for many things.  That is why I presented two sides to each of those (with the exception to the sun).  Fearing the sun will fall out the sky is different.  That is based around the belief that the sun revolves around the earth.  My point on the socks, it’s irrational to fear without the waxed floor.  It’s irrational to fear the puppy when you’re not allergic.  “So all of these examples have some evidence in favor of them, hence by your own lights, they all should be rational.” - You are asserting that I feel that it would be rational for someone to fear the puppy when not allergic.  This is not the case.  It is not rational to fear if the conditions don’t apply.

OK then. It is rational to fear flying in a commercial airliner when you see that the pilot is drunk. But not when you notice nothing wrong. (I mean, fear it more than you would fear driving).

If you agree to that sort of account, then we’re seeing eye-to-eye.

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 August 2009 06:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 68 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15395
Joined  2006-02-14
thoswm - 14 August 2009 03:28 PM

I’m not sure if you understand what I was getting at.  I’m saying that deaths and injuries per mile for air travel should compare only to deaths and injuries per mile for the driving of trips of equal distances.  The current comparison is meaningless for the very reason that you cannot get a commercial airliner to take you from your house to the shopping center.

Maybe so, it would depend on the statistics. That is, if flying were 100x less dangerous per mile than driving, then driving two miles would be more dangerous (and therefore more worthy of fear) than flying 100 miles. Right?

We could easily figure out the tipping point here of comparison.

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 August 2009 07:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 69 ]
Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  120
Joined  2009-07-13
dougsmith - 14 August 2009 06:09 PM
thoswm - 14 August 2009 03:22 PM

There is rationality in fear for many things.  That is why I presented two sides to each of those (with the exception to the sun).  Fearing the sun will fall out the sky is different.  That is based around the belief that the sun revolves around the earth.  My point on the socks, it’s irrational to fear without the waxed floor.  It’s irrational to fear the puppy when you’re not allergic.  “So all of these examples have some evidence in favor of them, hence by your own lights, they all should be rational.” - You are asserting that I feel that it would be rational for someone to fear the puppy when not allergic.  This is not the case.  It is not rational to fear if the conditions don’t apply.

OK then. It is rational to fear flying in a commercial airliner when you see that the pilot is drunk. But not when you notice nothing wrong. (I mean, fear it more than you would fear driving).

If you agree to that sort of account, then we’re seeing eye-to-eye.

I mostly agree with that.  I think it partially depends on what you mean by noticing nothing wrong.  Is it that you interact with the pilot and notice nothing wrong?  If so then that should eliminate the fear of incompetence.  There is still an issue of chance though.  Compared to the puppy scenario, either you are allergic or not.  You are certain before interacting with the puppy that it will cause you no harm.  For it to be the same as the flying scenario, you would have to be certain before the flight that either the plane will crash or reach its destination.

 Signature 

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” - Seneca

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 August 2009 08:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 70 ]
Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  120
Joined  2009-07-13
dougsmith - 14 August 2009 06:10 PM
thoswm - 14 August 2009 03:28 PM

I’m not sure if you understand what I was getting at.  I’m saying that deaths and injuries per mile for air travel should compare only to deaths and injuries per mile for the driving of trips of equal distances.  The current comparison is meaningless for the very reason that you cannot get a commercial airliner to take you from your house to the shopping center.

Maybe so, it would depend on the statistics. That is, if flying were 100x less dangerous per mile than driving, then driving two miles would be more dangerous (and therefore more worthy of fear) than flying 100 miles. Right?

We could easily figure out the tipping point here of comparison.

I’m not sure there is a logical tipping point for comparison.  Car travel vs. air travel seems too different to me.  More cars on the road.  Cars travel short distances and long distances.  You can end your car trip at any time.  Subjected to more conditions while driving.  Fewer planes in the air.  Planes only travel long distances.  You cannot end your trip mid flight.  There is considerably fewer conditions while flying.  For those statistics to be meaningful to me, they would have to take into consideration all the different factors.  I still feel the only good comparison is against car trips of equal length.

 Signature 

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” - Seneca

Profile
 
 
   
5 of 5
5