Being Logical About Your Health - Things You Don't Need to be Worrying AboutBy Adam Sinicki
The PIN code for my Nationwide account is 2045. Seems pretty reckless doesn’t it? Well yeah, sure it does… but that’s just because of your primitive human mind.
You see we tend to focus on dangers and risks and blow these out of proportion. This of course has survival value in the wild, because the guy who said ‘the log across that huge canyon probably can take my weight’ would have lasted a little less long than the guy who said ‘nah maybe best not to’. Still though, it doesn’t change the fact that in most cases the first guy was probably right and it doesn’t change the fact that that was thousands of years ago when the world was a very different place. Thus our ‘risk radar’ is in many ways obsolete today, and it has a tendency to go off in all sorts of situations where it really shouldn’t.
Because let’s look at this logically – you don’t know where I live (you can find my address online, but that’s actually one of my old ones). You probably don’t live anywhere near me because you’re probably in America. You’re probably a nice guy or gal with no intention of robbing me blind. And even if you were evil, hell bent on destroying me, and living next door – you still couldn’t get my card off of me because I’d punch you hard in the face. And let’s say you were sneaky and you did manage to get my card off me – well there’s not much money in there anyway, it’s all moved into another saving account very quickly. So I’d lose a couple of hundred quid at worst. Boohoo.
So yeah there’s no need to worry, but that wouldn’t stop my Mum from being very angry at what I just did...
It’s the same when I hide my keys before going out jogging. I hide them in a drain under a rock round the side of my house. I know that some people would think this is reckless but again – there’s a very slim chance that anyone would look there realistically – and there’s much more chance of a plain crashing and hitting the flat. So it’s best to just let go and relax.
Cognitive BiasThere are loads of other situations in which our cognitive bias and our emotional reaction gets the better of us. Derren Brown wrote a very interesting chapter on it in his book ‘Trick of the Mind’ and focussed on things like the illusion of chance – many of us have a feeling about probability that is based on nothing. You throw a coin 20 times and it lands on heads and then you have an incredibly slim strong belief that it’s going to be tails next. There’s an almost impossibly small probability of a coin ever falling on the same side 21 times in a row, but the universe doesn’t care about this stuff – at this point right now there is only a 50/50 chance.
In everyday life I encounter this kind of flawed thinking a lot. For instance I have a huge pile of weights in the corner of my living room in my top story flat. It’s about 150kg and this has caused friends to comment that I should probably move them in case they fall through the floor.
But let’s think logically here – 150kg is probably about the weight of two guys. So by these people’s logic, if I were to pick up one of my friends in a boisterous bit of man-fighting, we would both fall through the floor. And the bed where Hannah and I sleep – which is heavy in itself and then has two people on top of it, must be an absolute death trap.
And Your HealthThe main area I see this though is in health, and it seems that loads of people have strange biased thoughts about their health that are very much not based on reality. For instance they think they need to wash potatoes before they peel them and then cook them at boiling temperatures. What?? That mud which comes off when you rinse them under some water by the way is definitely the least of your worries anyway.
Then there’s the views people have about eating other people’s food. I’m going to be honest – when I was a waiter I used to scrape the food off of the customers’ plates and then eat it. But I am not ashamed of this fact – point is that this is a lot more hygienic than snogging a random stranger in a club – something else I occasionally used to do and was hardly ever scolded for. I’ve seen people unwilling to share a glass with their romantic partners – but these people exchange all kinds of juices later on in the day. Then there are those people who wipe the toilet seat in public loos – sure it’s a good idea if there is visible piss on the seats because that doesn’t feel very nice on your ass, but otherwise you’ve got more germs on your fingers which you regularly put in your mouth. So just calm down sonny boy! Likewise if you drop a piece of food on the sideboard in the kitchen - that's fine to eat. People worry they'll pick up diseases but actually in the wild we'd have eaten stuff off the floor all the time that had been lying outside for days. And back then we probably didn't have colds every five minutes - it's time to put your immune system to work.
This is where many of the bodybuilding myths I described recently come from. ‘Protein shake must be bad for you’ because that’s kind of what I presume. All I’m asking for is some logic here people.
So in other words it’s time to start analysing what the basis is for your most fundamental thoughts. Assume nothing, and never go with popular opinion. It’s time to really assess whether you think things hold any merit or not, and while you’re at it you might also notice how much everything else we take for granted is pretty much arbitrary and based on nothing too. We'll be discussing this in more depth soon so stay tuned!