A Black Swan is a term coined by Nassim Taleb that describes an unpredictable event whose effect is greatly disproportionate to its cause.
Doug McGuff has written the following 12 tips from the perspective an emergency physician, which under a common point of view might seem a bit excessive or neurotic, however, might end up saving your life. We obviously can never follow all of them, as many of us rely on cycling to work daily through traffic, but it’s never too much to ask for a little precaution.
Read on and digest only the necessary:
1. Drive the biggest vehicle you can afford to drive. Your greatest risk of death comes from a motor vehicle accident. Despite all the data from the government on crash test safety, I can say unequivocally that in a 2-car accident, the person in the larger car always fairs better. Force=Mass x Acceleration. The vehicle with larger mass imparts the greater force. Also, purchase the newest large vehicle that you can afford. Crumple zones in newer cars can expand deceleration time from 30 milliseconds to 90 milliseconds which decreases deceleration forces by a factor of 3. I am not a believer in global warming or man’s contribution to it, but if you are and you want to do your part by driving a Smart Car or a Prius you should be commended for potentially standing by your convictions with your life. Also, if your midlife crisis plans include a motorcycle or sports car, realize that you might resolve your midlife crisis by avoiding old age all together. It goes without saying to wear your seatbelts, and you should be engulfed by as many air bags as possible. If we were truly rational about risk, all seat belts would be 5-point restraints and we would wear helmets while driving.
2. Never get on a 4-wheeler ATV. These are the most dangerous vehicle that I know of. ATV’s have produced more quadriplegics than anything else I have seen.
3. Do not road cycle or jog on public roads/roadsides. This is self-evident.
4. Do not fly a plane or helicopter unless you are a full-time professional pilot. If you are a doctor, lawyer, actor, athlete, stockbroker or other well-to-do professional do not get a pilot’s license. Expertise in one area of life does not transfer to piloting, often with fatal results.
5. If you are walking down a sidewalk and are approaching a group of loud and apparently intoxicated males, cross to the other side of the street immediately. If anyone tries to start a fight with you, the first step should be “choke them with heel dust”.
6. If your gas grill won’t start….walk away. Never throw gas (or other accelerant) on a fire.
7. Never dive into a pool or body of water (except in a pool diving area marked 9 feet or deeper after you have checked in out feet-first).
8. Never get on a ladder to clean your gutters, or on your roof to hang Christmas lights. Do not cut down trees with a chainsaw. I have seen too many middle age males (with a bug up their ass to get something done) die from these activities. In general, any house or lawn work that you can hire for an amount equal to or less than your own hourly wage is money well spent.
9. If you are retirement age and plan on moving to a new home…think twice. The stress pushes many seniors over the edge. If you do, buy an existing house. I have lost count of the number of retirees that have died of heart attacks while going through the stress of custom-building their retirement dream home.
10. If anyone tries to force you into your car or car trunk at gun point, don’t cooperate. Fight and scream all you can even if you risk getting shot in the parking lot. If you get in the car, you will most likely die (or worse).
11. If you are in any personal or professional relationship that exhausts you or otherwise causes your recurrent distress, then end the relationship immediately.
12. Don’t play the lottery…you might win. Any unearned wealth, or wealth that is disproportionate to the objective value you provide will destroy you. Lottery winners and Sports/Movie stars share a common bond of disproportionate rates of depression, addiction, and suicide.