Which of these statements is true?

  • The chances are you’ll read the rest of this page …
  • You’ll probably read the rest of this page or …
  • You’ll possibly read the rest of this page ..

fear of flying cards

Which of them is right? What do they mean anyway?

When we say … the chances are that I’ll play cards at the weekend, it means that it’s more likely that I will play than I won’t play. If I say the chances are that I won’t play cards at the weekend means that it’s more than likely that I won’t.

But whatever I say no-one would be surprised if I did or didn’t, because I only said that the chances are … and by that I invoke a whole set of social rules that allows anyone to put their own interpretation on whether I will turn up or not.

But neither of these outcomes is certain, and if the same behaviour happened over 150 years it is never a certainty, but it’s getting more likely. What is a certainty is that I will or I won’t turn up.  But that’s a belief, not a statistical fact.

Because almost anything is possible because there’s insufficient evidence one way or the other. It’s possible that the world could end tomorrow. But it probably won’t. Whatever you can think of can be a possibility; for example it’s possible that I wake up bald tomorrow. The problem for fearful flyers is not about waking up bald but … the possibility of something happening on a plane, the possibility of being scared, the possibility of being airsick, the possibility of turbulence and so on.The likelihood (probability) of these things is very different. But because of your fear, you will make possibility into probability (something could happen, therefore it will happen)

Let’s say I offer you a full pack of cards excluding the jokers and with the cards face down ask you to select the card which you think could be the two of hearts. Before I ask you,

  1. I say that if you select the two of hearts card, you win everything I own, car, house, PC, the lot!
  2. Or I say: if you select the two of hearts card, you lose everything you own, car, house, PC, the lot, but this time we play with 1,000,000 cards with only one card being the two of hearts!

Which game would you prefer to play. What are the chances of selecting the card I nominated? Why do they feel different. This is how you think about flying. You’ll always lose despite the odds. And the odds of accidents are one in 23,000,000.

They feel different because of the consequences of the outcome.

What are your chances of overcoming your fear of flying?

Or should I ask – what is the probability of overcoming your fear of flying?

What fearful flyers tend to do is to turn possibility into probability and probability into disaster.  

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