Why Flying Can Be Scary

Try asking a group of regulos if they’d play a modified version of Russian roulette: instead of eight chambers and one bullet, the ratio is a million to one. How much money would you have to pay them to play?

Most people will give you a dignified “I don’t play with my life”/”My continued existence is priceless” type of response. Up the number of chambers to a billion, or a trillion, or N, and the answer rarely changes.

Yet of course people play this game every day, apparently unwittingly. They live in a world where the chance of a consciousness-ending event is far better than a billion to one.

The thing with flying, though, is that you know the precise moment the die is cast. It happens when the cabin doors close: you’re either going to land safely at your final destination or not-so-safely at your Final destination. There’s no oncoming traffic to dodge or diet to change, no continuum of counterfactuals to meditate on; it’s a binary event and you’ve officially flipped the coin.

And even though the odds look good, it just feels like a foolish game.




Robert Somers Jul 4th, 2007 at 11:53 am