A couple people recently have asked about the risks I take. On one hand, as they point out, I play it extremely safe by eating healthy foods and abstaining from alcohol and drugs. On the other hand, I climb construction cranes and go skydiving. Isn't this a contradiction?
It isn't - at least in my "eccentric" way of thinking. The difference is that one type of risk is an incidental risk, and the other is a sustained risk. I'm not really concerned with how dangerous a particular activity is. I know that jumping onto a moving freight train is more dangerous than eating a cookie. I'm worried on the "expected value" of the event. In other words, the average harm per hour times the amount of hours I'll be doing the activity.
If I climb a radio tower, there's a very small chance that I'll kill myself doing so. I don't mind taking that risk, though, because I'm only going to spend a total of ten hours or so doing it in my entire life. The odds probably won't catch up with me.
Eating healthy food is different. I'll spend tens of thousands of hours of my life eating food. Those odds definitely WILL catch up with me. The simple habit of eating as healthily as I possibly can will directly affect how much time I have on this planet. That's a decision with real effects.
This equation is always running through my mind. I made the mistake of riding my friend's 1000cc superbike. Now I'm checking craigslist three times a day to find a deal on a Hayabusa, one of the fastest production bikes in existence.
If I do buy a motorcycle, though, I won't ride it a lot. I won't ride it in bad weather, will probably rarely take it on the highway, and will sell it as soon as the novelty wears off. My guess is that I'll put a total of less than a thousand miles (of riding in perfect conditions) on it before getting rid of it. That is accepting some risk, but I'm doing my best to limit it.
There's another factor in play in my risk-related decision making. Some things are worth taking risks for. Others aren't. The kinds of risks that I take are the kinds of risks that make life interesting. I like having an extremely safe normal life and compressing my risks into short amounts of time where I'm face to face with danger. In a weird way, those sorts of experiences make me appreciate life more. They make me feel like I've lived a full life.
I'd be willing to bet that all things considered, I have a longer expectancy than average, and will have a lot more adventure and excitement than average, too. My goal has never been to eliminate risk, only to make it count for something.
More TaskSmash codes:
There are no such thing as "little risk" or "big risk". What matters are the results after taking any of these two "kinds" of
href="http://www.whatareyouchasing.com">risks</a>. It'll determine what kind of person one is.
Actually, your approach does make sense. I can understand why you would want to abstain from booze, and instead veer towards eating the healthiest way you can, if you're going to go and take risks like you do. You've really got to be on top of yourself to be alive and glad of it, at the end of the day. :) Bravo.
well geez tynan, when you say it like that it makes you sound like you've actually thought this through and aren't just doing stuff for the hell of it. You'll make a lot of people angry if you keep ripping apart their expectations like that.
unfortunately you've already experienced the crack like rush of a large displacement motorcycle, but regardless -
please don't go out an buy a literbike or a busa with basically no experience. they are not forgiving machines
they go from zero to stupid in 2 seconds and 5 degrees of throttle
it's very, very hard to exercise sound judgement and self control on such a beast
even assuming that you do, a small mistake on a street legal race bike with 200 hp can have serious consequences
as a new rider, you will make small mistakes
my advice is this - buy a smaller sportbike (i recommend a 650cc twin. they are still wicked fast.)
spend the balance on the best gear you can afford and tons of TRACK TIME
once you get a taste of flat out performance on a nice safe race track, gunning it in a straight line on the highway will seem mundane
nevermind that you'll quickly realize how much there is to learn (as you get schooled by 250s). helps build respect for the bike, and you will reassess the risks of getting your (less fun) street kicks
Interesting. I like a lot of your posts and loved your travel book. I look forward to your insights, but you got this one wrong.
In measuring your risks you've made tha fallacy of equivalence. By assuming the consequences of eating badly and climbing cranes are equally simply because the final worst case result in both is death. however the risks are far from equal.
The likely consequence of eating poorly is that the end of your life will be shortened and that the final years will be of lower quality. To quantify this, let's say eating poorly means you die at 70 instead of 80, and that you have health problems which diminish the quality of you final 10 years by half of what they would otherwise be. Quantified that means 15 years total risk.
Climbing a crane, might result in a fatality. iIf you are 30 right now and would otherwise live to 80 that makes the consequence 50 years, or more than three times as much.
Further we are making the assumption that all years are equal.... Which is arguable. Some might think the years between 35 and 40 are more valuable than those between 75 and 80.
Another error you are making is trying to draw an equivalence between time spent in an activity and it's consequences. There are a lot of problems with this, as the consequences of eating poorly would not be measurable in this context. For example, let's say you eat healthy sometimes but spend 1/2 hour per week eating the grossest gnarliest most unhealthily delicious hotdog and a beer each Saturday as a reward for an otherwise healthy lifestyle. 2 hours a month, 24 hours a yrear, or about 1000 hours over 4 decades. What is your risk here? It's essentially nil. You have not measurably moved your life expectancy or taken any appreciable risk.
10 hours on a crane though is horrendously risky by comparison.
Measurements of probability and actuarial risk are notoriously difficult and the errors you make are common, and cause a lot of people grief. Measuring risk is very hard.
On the other hand your lecture on how you evaluate worst case scenarios versus best case scenarios in your decision tree was superior.
If you are going to climb cranes you might want to consider investigating judging risk the way stuntmen do which is on a double scale of difficulty versus consequence.
Keep up the good work. Love your columns.
-Scylla, 43 year old ultra marathoning father of two, and risk management savant.
A short time high risk coud kill you tomorrow, but a long term low risk could kill you in 50 years.
You seem to be picking the first, but I would probably avoid the higher risk short term activities.
For me it is better to live longer and take moderate risks rather than to take a lot of high risk and die younger.
Spoken like a true professional gambler!!
All joking aside life is about Risk Management. The ones who attempt to eliminate risk end up going through life like lifeless zombies.
Motorcycles are dangerous, but not as much as people think. The biggest things are: don't drink, and wear protective gear. That reduces the risk of serious injury or death by a *huge* amount.
Some people are addicted to motorcycles forever and some are not. I started riding one about 3 years ago and haven't stopped since. I've already been in one accident(not serious), but I still believe in the risk is worth the reward. It's about using your safety gear, I always use my full faced helmet, jacket, protective jeans, gloves, and steel toe boots.
I did a motorcycle trip around the country for two months and it was by far the best way I have ever traveled. Now it's my goal to travel the WORLD on my motorcycle.
When I tell people I ride a motorcycle, they're either really excited (because they ride too), or horrified that I would take such careless risks with my life. Just how dangerous is motorcycle riding, though? Before I bought my first bike I did some research and came to the conclusion: not very.
Let's look at the data.
In 2006, there were 35 motorcycle deaths per 100 million miles of distance traveled by motorcyclist. That means that, on average, for me to die riding a motorcycle, I'd have to ride 2.8 million miles, assuming I'm an average rider. Last year I rode somewhere around 1000 miles, giving me a .035% chance of death.
That's a lot of riding, and not a lot of death.
Hi everyone and welcome to my new blog! As this is one of my first posts here I'd like to introduce myself and explain why I've called this blog No Status Quo.
My name is Emil and I'm a 21-year old student from Latvia. I've spent the last three years of my life studying in the United States and the Netherlands. I'm studying economics, psychology and mathematics. A strange combination, I know. I'm currently in my last semester, and I'm really looking forward to graduation.
Why? Well, I have some great plans after finishing college. But first let me start by explaining what I don't want to be doing after I graduate.
I no longer want to study at a university because all the world's knowledge is freely available on the Internet. If the world's greatest universities offer their lectures for free, why would I waste my time and money studying at an average institution? Sure, I might not get any credentials for what I learn online, but I want to live a life in which I'm rewarded for knowledge and hard work, not formal credentials.