Friday, October 25, 2013

Underestimating the Risks

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“Familiarity breeds liking.”


        One of functionalities of our brain is to sort everything into two pile: The importants and the others. We define important subjects as something new and unfamiliar to us. We pay attention to important things while ignoring the unimportant ones. 

Habituation and Riskiness

        Habituation refers to how our brains turns important things into unimportant things. Our brain does so when we experience the same thing over and over again. So, one thing could look risky on the first day we experience it. But, we will feel that it is less important and less risky to when we experience it more, when in fact it is still the same thing and the riskiness is still the same.

Good-Bad Rule (Affect Heuristic)

        When we make decision we use our feeling. If we feel good about it, we’ll think that it’s not risky.

Mere Exposure Effect 

Again,  familiarity breeds liking. Companies know about this. They use marketing to expose customers to their brands and campaign. They aims at increasing familiarity and therefore the positive effect.

Presentation Matters

Our feeling is very sensitive to how the content is presented to us.


        We are more sensitive to negative stuff than positive one.  Suppose you have a cancer and you need to choose your treatment method. Consider two following sentences: 1) the chance of dying is 20% and 2) The chance of being alive is 80% Most people would not want to do the surgery when hearing the former one. But, they are willing to go through surgery when hearing the latter one, even if the content is the same. Again, language matters.


        Our feeling is less sensitive to abstract numbers. Toxic gas which kills 20% people feel less toxic than another gas which kills 20 out of 100 people.


        Our feeling is sensitive to vivid presentation such as picture. By putting nasty pictures of smokers on a cigarette package, people become more aware of lung cancer.

Feeling over Numbers

        Another experiment is to ask a person to choose either getting $50 or kissing a star he likes. Most of them would choose $50. But, when we change the question a little--choose between having 1% chance of getting $50 and having 1% chance of kissing the star, the result is reverse. Even if the odds is the same, the excitement of anticipating whether they get kiss the star is much more satisfactory. When the experiment is modified to losing $20 and getting an electric shock, the result is the same. People are just probability blind.
“People aren’t killed by earthquake. They are killed by buildings that collapse in earthquake.”       
SOURCEThe Science of Fear: How the Culture of Fear Manipulates Your Brain 

Book or Audiobooks?

Personally, I prefer audiobooks. It's fun, and I can listen when I'm doing something else. It also makes other activities (e.g., jogging) a lot more fun. For more detail about audiobooks, please read [this post].

There is one more reason that may encourage you to go for the audiobook version. You can get it now for FREE. Audible offers you a free trial for 14 days. Even if you get the book and cancel the subscription right away (so that you don't have to pay), you can keep the book. And, don't worry if you lost the audiobook file. Just log into You can keep downloading the over and over again.

   About the summary: It takes time to finish up a book. And, when you do, sometimes, you want to review what you learn from the book. If you do not make  notes as you read, you might have to go through the book once again. This can be time-consuming when you are dealing with a book. But you can still flip through the book and locate what you are looking for.

However, when the material is an audiobook, it is extremely hard to locate a specific part of content. Most likely you will have to listen to the entire audiobook once again.

This book summary will help solve the pain of having to go through the book all over again.

I am leaving out the details of the books. Most books have interesting examples and case studies, not included here. Reading the original book would be much more entertaining and enlightening. If you like the summary, you may want to get the original from the source below.

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