Many of us participate in activities and sports that are at least somewhat dangerous.  However, most of us also do not have a full appreciation of how risky these activities really are, especially compared to other things that we could be doing instead.We just love our favorite pastime and facing up to its risks can be stressful because we also want to be safe while having fun.

191205Psychologists call this type of stress “cognitive dissonance”, and we intuitively look for ways to remove the discomfort of our conflicting emotions, often by downplaying the risks to ourselves and to others.E.g., when I became a glider pilot some 35 years ago, my instructors used to proclaim that “the most dangerous aspect of the sport is the drive to the airport”.  This was a widely held belief at the time even though it could not have been further from the truth. And while the slogan was famously debunked by the prominent German pilot Bruno Gantenbrink in his speech “Safety comes first“, our instinct to downplay the risks to ourselves (and to others) has of course remained.