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I routinely encounter people who are afraid of the wrong things. Recently I heard an elderly dame say she won’t be having the covid19 vaccine as she heard tell three people in England died after receiving theirs. I happen to know this same person smokes cigarettes at a pack a day. One of my brothers refuses to take medication for his high cholesterol on the rare chance it could cause side effects but he regularly buys lottery tickets hoping it pays off.  You get the picture. People are notoriously lousy at assessing risk.  I heard recently the number of people who die each year from shark attacks can be counted on or or two hands but we all had to be dragged kicking and screaming into wearing our seat belts to safeguard for the far more likely chance we will be in an accident.*

I think I am pretty good at discriminating neurotic fears from legitimate ones. The biggest fear I ought to have – and do have – is cardiovascular disease.  I am far more likely to have a heart attack or a stroke than being attacked on the street.  This is why I feel the need to exercise and don’t feel the need to carry a gun.**

Don’t think I am above stupid fears. The monkey part of my brain still goes immediate to full panic at the sight of a scorpion in the house before the wiser part (near the front) reminds me no one dies of a scorpion bite and they do not jump, so knock it off. 

Then there are the folks who aren’t afraid of things when the ought to be.Elderly male patients often won’t get rid of their guns even though statistics support they are far more likely to use the gun to kill themselves than on an intruder. 

It is an ongoing process, trying not to be afraid of the wrong things and being fearful of the right things. 

*Seat belts have a grim history that when they were first considered the auto industry was heavily opposed to putting them in cars as it implied their product was hazardous. Later on when they were installed there were ads encouraging drivers to buckle up for their own good.  These ads were a flop. Then it became law, and only then did people buckle up – and the deaths from car accidents plummeted. It is an example of forcing people to do what’s right pays off when simple encouragement fails.

**These fears seem to be flipped in thems of Trump supporters, at least by how they look in the news. They often look heavily armed and grossly overweight. 

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January 2021

Spo-Reflections 2006-2018