I recently saw a social media post from someone who is otherwise an intelligent, rational human being, citing reasons why they wanted to move to New Zealand. One of the top reasons was low gun violence. Without too much digging you can find that that it is, in fact, lower than it is in the U.S. What this highlights is the fundamental inability of human being to process abstract statistics and large numbers, especially when they involve bad things. That’s like moving to the Mojave Desert because there are less sharks.
There are volumes on this topic. “The Science of Fear” is one of the best. The quick, dirty summary is it’s the same concept which makes us fear flying, even though we know that statistically flying is far, far safer than driving. Our primally driven subconscious cannot coneptualize numbers like 1 in a 1,000,000. We think we can, but we can’t. Our subconscious understands, “Oh shit that’s bad,” and calls it a day.
It’s the same thing with sharks, guns, and air squats.
The odds something bad will happen to you at the behest of a shark, an air squat or gun are infinitesimally small (but swords will fuck you up). The odds you will encounter any of these things in the wild are minuscule (there will, however, be burpees). We live in a world with a very large number of people and an interconnectedness unimaginable even 30 years ago. So, sometimes sharks or guns do kill people. When it happens, we hear about every. Single. One. In graphic, gory, detail, with shocking dramatic delivery. Your brain says, “Holy shit that’s bad,” and stops processing information. Your subconscious can’t figure out the odds, even though your rational mind knows you’re more likely to win the lottery.
The Matrix of Leadership is a theoretical example of a virtuous, incorruptible symbol and weapon.
Of course guns can kill you. They were created as an instrument of war, after all. All powerful tools are dangerous in the hands of the ignorant and/or the evil. What else fits in this category? Cars, knives, superchargers, nitrous oxide, drugs, yes, CrossFit, and the Autobot Matrix of Leadership.
Each year 31,537 people are killed by guns in the U.S. (Note: I’m using statistics from the Brady Campaign intentionally, an organization strongly biased against guns and against my personal confirmation bias). Whoa. That sounds bad. But that includes suicides (which is obnoxious). If you’re going to peace yourself out (or arguably someone else) you’ll find a way regardless of what’s available. If you exclude self-icide (18,783) you’re left with 12,754. There are 318,900,000 people living in the U.S. That is 0.000039%. This is where the inability to conceptualize the very large or very small comes into play. That’s 3.9×10^-5. in scientific notation.
There are roughly 44,800 people killed in car accidents in the U.S. each year. That’s 3.6 times more likely than being killed by a firearm.
Almost no one is currently terrified of automobiles or railing that we stop the carnage. We’re just exposed to the firearm cases that do happen daily in the media cycle because, “if it bleeds it leads.” It’s also very inconvenient for us to worry about driving.
I’m using firearms here, as a tongue-in-cheek hyperbole, but it’s also a pragmatic metaphor; it applies to many things as an extreme, supposedly terminal real-life example.
The Matrix of Leadership is a theoretical example of a virtuous, incorruptible symbol and weapon. It’s also interesting, as such a thing does not exist in our world. It’s capable of destroying an entire planet, but only a bad planet. It annihilates all the bad guys, but doesn’t hurt the good guys. And, it can only be wielded by the pure of heart–much like the sword in the stone. It’s an all-powerful force for good, that cannot be used for ill, for evil, or by evil; just ask Galvatron. He got real fucked up.
None of the memetic or macro-shareable “information” you see on social media comes from an unbiased source–unbiased sources don’t engage in massive data (it’s not information) dissemination, sans context. Due to the instant availability of non-contextual, hyperbolic statistics and the 24-hour
news bullshit cycle, we’re inundated with seemingly compelling information that is presented by an agenda, not an educator.
On a much less dramatic but no less damaging scale, this is what the Russes have been telling us about with our beloved air squats. There are people who would have you believe that fitness is so dangerous (nevermind obesity, you cookie-eating fuckers), it will literally fucking kill you!
No, it fucking won’t. Neither will sharks. I went to college with a dude who successfully kicked a shark’s ass while surfing and is fine now. Sharks aren’t instant death machines. Neither are guns.
“Swords are dangerous. They’ll cut your fucking throat wide open.”
There’s a false belief that guns are death rays. This isn’t fucking “Mars Attacks.” In total 71,386 people survive being shot each year, in the U.S. (including failed suicides). I’m surrounded by ludicrous fitness all day every day, and even I don’t see many injuries other than mild nicks, cuts and life-altering DOMS.
There are people and organizations who want you to be scared. All the time. Of everything. Scared people are easy to manipulate. I’m not suggesting the Illuminati or some malevolent force is behind these things, it’s simpler and more insidious. Self-interest and greed. There are people and organizations who stand to profit from all of us believing that we are constantly in great danger from things which are less likely to harm us than things we do every day, without a second thought.
CrossFit’s illustrious founder and CEO, Greg Glassman, once said that the greatest danger in functional movements is in not doing them.