Monday, April 23, 2007

Defensive thinking

In this case, the concept is similar to defensive driving. For some people, looking ahead for possible trouble is too much effort. The vast majority of the time this isn't a problem. But then one day all the stars align and the driver with the new fancy sports car tries to fit into a gap in traffic just as you look down to check your speed and suddenly you are starring in a new episode of Conserve Your Momentum. Same with seat belts, you don't know when you will need them--but when you do, you will need them badly, and immediately. So, you use them all the time, just in case.

We live such safe lives and have for so long the habit of defensive thinking is gone. People expect "someone" to pass a law or put up a fence or add a safety feature the instant anyone is injured or killed, even if doing something supremely stupid. Speaking from personal experience, it only took one episode of inadvertant electrocution for me to become very, VERY interested in electrical safety. I learned from it, and thought FOR MYSELF in similar situations, "is this going to make me yelp in pain?" Because especially in experimental labs you are working with devices nobody else has, so how is OSHA going to know the safest way to operate it?

We fought for this safety, and there is nothing wrong with enjoying it-- but people need to be *able* to step outside the comfortable rut and take action. To assess a situation and know the police won't be able to get there in time. I don't know what will do that, but I suspect it will be different for everyone. Don't think mandatory military training is a good idea, for a lot of reasons (cost being a big one). I think it would be a good idea to have *something* be mandatory, however. Maybe a list of choices. Martial arts worked for me, maybe sports would work for others. Gotta do something, though. Unless you like being prey. And I really do think it is the mind that needs changing the most.


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