Shattered Ambiguity

I have covered things such as the helmet debate, taking the lane, whether or not the door zone is the death zone or it’s all a bunch of propaganda and so on for a long time.

Long time readers know that in many of these cases, my mind is made up.

I feel like this is a really good thing.

At a certain point, we have to live our lives.

We can’t be in an uncertain state forever; endlessly debating with ourselves (and others) whether or not we ought to wear a helmet or precisely how far away from parked cars should we ride.

Shit, if I hadn’t messed up my head with a surfing accident, I’d be out riding right now. That’s right, suck on it helmet wears! I didn’t see a single person whining to me about helmet use even though I totally busted my head open when it got hit by a surfboard. That’s because helmet wearing, in the US, is a cultural habit, but it’s not necessary for safety.

Instead of picking open old wounds, I really like to see a few things.

First of all, who are all these people who make blanket assertions without evidence?

Again, places where helmets are not common are SAFER. I’m not here to build a house, but to find out why people are living here, metaphorically. Why of why do people ignore the evidence?

Second, in many cases there’s ambiguous evidence. When this is the case, why do people cherry pick one set of studies over another.

I am sincerely scratching my head.

I have no idea why people do this.

My go to answer is that people are fucking stupid but because of the notion of a blog 2.0 with more compassion and empathy, I can no longer walk that road.

So, why is it that people choose these things.

I have a few guesses.

First, is to protect one’s ego.

This means that the longer you have been on a bike riding in a certain way, the more immune you are to learning and new information. This means that in many ways, “experience” is actually a bad thing because the most experienced are the most entrenched in their ideas, right or wrong. This is a very serious problem where we value authority of “experts” over more recent studies and data.

I have found that the urge to protect one’s ego as being an impediment for learning is true a great deal of the time. Think about a time where your ego was threatened. Be honest. I don’t want to know what it is, this is for you only. Now think about when you disagree with something in the bicycle world. Is the feeling the same? If so, your ego it threated.

Don’t worry, I spend a great of time defending my own ego. I suffer along with my readers.

Second, people resist new ideas because there is a well known cognitive bias where people believe the first data that they get. Like everything with humans, this is not always true. However, more often than not, it is.

This is why people often have the religion of their parents. If they were told that there were many gods, the notion of one tiny god seems to be just wrong. And so on.

Thus, if you were told, as a kid, to wear a helmet, you might believe it your whole life without checking to see if there are any studies to prove it.

If you do read a study, you’ll be searching for something to confirm that they help. If you don’t find it, you’ll search for a single error in the study.

“Aha,” you conclude. “This single graph is wrong. We can safely dismiss this entire paper–even stuff that’s not related to that single graph.”

This is how I see grown people reasoning all the time.

Finally, there’s fear. This means that if one has to change their views, there’s this vague chasm of uncertainty.

This is uncomfortable for many people.Insteadd of dealing with this, I have seen people back away from the chasm. Then, haha, they accuse me of fear. Sweet projection is one of my favorite things.

Yes, I am afraid. You win.

However, my own fears, and those of others, do not determine the facts, unless those facts are about whatfrailtyy cats we all are. All of us.

I find fear to be quite a useful emotion for efficiently keeping my attention and thus I don’t wish to be rid of it. However, I do think that fear should be appropriate.

Fear of new ideas is not useful and it’s not appropriate. So cut it out and look inside. Is there some fear with a new idea?

Perhaps taking the lane is more dangerous than one supposed. Perhaps it’s not.

Who knows.

I am bored of such tiny questions.

I’m more interested in why you picked one piece ofambiguouss information and now you cling to it and attack others for heresy over an equally plausible yet alsoambiguouss piece of evidence.

Why o’ why?

When I haveambiguityy, I just say I don’t know. Hardly the words of an xpert, I know. 🙂


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