Wouldn’t you think that if some smart folks had solved a problem more than 300 years ago, that the problem would have gone away?
In the 1650s a gambler asked his smart guy friend, Blaise Pascal for help with gambling. Pascal was intrigued, and struck up a correspondence with another smart guy Pierre de Fermat — and probability theory was born.
Probability theory pretty much determines what is a good bet, and what is a longshot; the mathematical difference between a low risk and you’ve got to be stupid.
Yet 300-and-something years later, suckers are still playing Live Keno in casinos, and people still believe that bicycling is dangerous.
There seems to be no hope for a vaccine for cognitive biases — those irrational mental holdovers that make us human no matter how Vulcan-like we aspire to be.
In his presentation at the National Bike Summit — just a day after the Women’s Bicycling Forum — Tom Bowden explored the futility of mansplaining away the safety concerns many people have about cycling.
If, after that, you still believe it’s possible to cure cyclophobia with reason, here is Bowden’s law. Knock yourself out.
Source materials referenced by Bowden in his presentation:
- Dont fear riding a bicycle, fear sitting in that chair (People for Bikes)
- Fatalities per Million Hours (Bicycling Life)
- Cycling safety relative to driving by country (Bicycling Life)
- Safety in Numbers Effect PDF (Official Website of the City of Minneapolis)
- Thinking, Fast and Slow (Daniel Kahneman)
- Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets (Nassim Nicholas Taleb)
- Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions (Dan Ariely)
- The Monty Hall Problem: The Remarkable Story of Math’s Most Contentious Brain Teaser (Jason Rosenhouse)
- List of Cognitive Biases (Wikipedia)
This presentation was already put online by The League of American Bicyclists, but without the slides. The League’s video is used with their permission. This is just my remix including the slides and the video I shot simultaneously.
My participation in this years’ National Bike Summit was made possible by these sponsors.