Posts filed under “Psychology”
No, you are not going to die from Ebola.
To quote a wag on Twitter, “More Americans have been married to Kim Kardashian than have died from Ebola.”
But the latest scare does have a small positive: It provides me with yet another opportunity to lecture you about how incredibly dumb your lizard brain is. (It’s also an opportunity to castigate the media for turning a minuscule threat into a full-blown conflagration, but that’s shooting fish in a barrel).
How serious is the danger of Ebola infection?
Despite the nonstop media coverage, it’s important to note that this doesn’t matter to 99.999 percent of Americans. Back in May, we noted the things that are most likely to kill you — or your investments — are not the things most of us typically obsess about.
We fear the awesome predatory perfection of the great white shark, and have made the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week,” “the longest-running cable television programming event in history.” This seems somewhat disproportionate, given that 10 people a year die from shark attacks — out of more than 7 billion people. If you want to fear a living creature, than logic suggests it’s the mosquito — they kill more human beings than any other animal on the planet. Man, be it through wars or murder or wanton disregard or simple benign neglect, comes in a distant second.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 10 leading causes of death in the U.S. are heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, unintentional injuries, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease, and suicide. (That was for 2012, the most recent year we have complete data for.)
We seem to be much more concerned about things like terrorism than we are mundane things like heart disease, cancer or car accidents. Yet those three were in the top 10, while more Americans were killed by toddlers than by terrorists.
Even if you could pick huge winners, could you hold them? Barry Ritholtz Washington Post, October 5, 2014 Let’s imagine for the moment that you are the World’s Greatest Stock Picker®. You have an uncanny talent for ferreting out “the next Microsoft” — companies that are on the sharpest edge of what’s…Read More
I am a fan of Morgan Housel, columnist at the Motley Fool. His writings evince a strong understanding of behavioral issues, and he has a gift of sifting through the nonsense to get to what really matters. Only on rare occasions do I get to disagree with him. Today is one of those times. Housel has…Read More
Fascinating comparison of popular acceptance of non-traditional (in some jurisdictions, they were called “Deviant”) marraiges. Note how the slopes of the lines showing legality and popular acceptance have shifted. Not just change, but the rate of change has accelerated. This suggests to me a more progressive attitude on Social Issues. Add Marijuana legalization to the…Read More
One of the things I like to do in all of my musings is to find some thing or person who is wrong about an investing-related subject, then trying to figure out where they went awry. On occasion, small pearls of wisdom can be derived from this analytical process, as in this discussion on narrative….Read More
One of my favorite Sci-Fi books from my teen years was Alfred Bester’s 1953 novel, The Demolished Man. (It was the first Hugo Award winner). In Bester’s vision of the Future, telepathy is common, and the main character uses earworms — Pop tunes specifically developed to be an addictive, catchy, irritating nuisance to block out…Read More
I stumbled on this gem earlier today: “Earlier this year, the Dow had dropped over 5,000 points in 6 months. One of the collective fallacies our culture operates under is the delusion that the market is some kind of astute forecasting machine. It is not — it represents the collective wisdom of 10 million panicked…Read More