The Dumbest Person in the Room

I saw the book title: The Smartest Guys in the Room and although I never read the book, I never forgot the title.

A cursory glance at the reviews shows that the title is probably meant to be ironic, but here my title is meant to be taken on face value.

It’s a comment on how people often make their decisions. Although I admit to being a creature of emotion who makes his decisions primarily based on my whims, it’s a dirty secret that I actually read statistics.

I haven’t read anywhere anything that showed that cycling–even san helmet–is any more dangerous than motoring.

This is funny because everyone I talk to seems to believe that getting on a bicycle on the mean streets of San Diego about as sane as putting your hand in the mouth of a shark. When I share the fact that I have been cycling as my only means of transport for over a decade, people just say that I am lucky.

Which is obvious as ad hoc argument at best which isn’t so interesting, we all make mistakes. What does fascinate me to no end is how many of the people who claim that cycling is insanely dangerous are scientists, academics, and engineers.

I have found them all–as well as the rest of the slice of society I am lucky enough to come in contact with–deaf to both logic and statistics.

Last night while watching the best TV show ever: How TV Ruined Your Life, I learned why. It’s the amygdala. Of course!

Humans actually have two of these tiny organs nestled deep in their brains. While this clump of neurons is as important to one’s humanity as any other part of their brain, it is actually one of the most primitive.

I don’t think that primitive, old, nor simple to always be bad, but in this case, the amygdala is the dumbest person in the room when it comes to making decisions.

However, it being part of the ancient limbic system, the center of emotions, it is easier than other parts of the human mind to manipulate which is why advertisers and politicians go for it.

Once someone is afraid, they are impervious to reason. This is why someone’s educational background does little to defend them against the disingenuous.

This doesn’t really bother me. I embrace my emotional heritage: my feelings are total assets.

However, I have been working with my feelings for a while, and I have managed to come to grasp, a little, with my sense of fear.

But it’s not that I want to tell people how to think and feel, I just wish that they would think and feel with a wider range of expression. Those who are afraid, who watch television become extremely repetitive and boring: “bikes are dangerous oh my!” So my real motivation is to hopefully inspire more interesting conversational partners.


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