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Emotion vs. Logic: The Delusion of Control

If an article on the internet is true, and why wouldn’t it be, when film director Sam Mendes and his wife, actress Kate Winslet, fly anywhere, they take separate flights.

Their thinking?  If one plane crashes, the other will survive to raise the kids. Having raised kids, I’m unsure if this is an act of love or ‘revenge from beyond the grave.’

I’m sure Sam and Kate feel they’re logical, despite knowing that the odds of a plane crash are less than the odds Donald Trump will finish a sentence without the words ‘awesome,’ ‘great,’ or ‘I’.

To an outsider, traveling separately sounds more like a couple who doesn’t get along.  And I notice the article was written several years ago, before they divorced.


Here’s something Sam and Kate might want to know: 40,000 Americans are hospitalized due to food poisoning every year! So whenever they have a meal together, they should sit at separate restaurants.  Since there’s a greater chance they’ll die from a bad burrito than a plummeting airplane, it’s the responsible thing to do. Heck, in the past month or so 3 friends have gone down with food poisoning.  (And no, it wasn’t because I was the cook.)


Then there are the deadly consequences food that hasn’t ‘gone bad’, but already is bad.  Bad for you. Bad for everyone.  Who would have thought people would ever actually say, “I’m craving some junk food.”  But we do.  (Imagine someone hoping to have, “a junky career with colleagues who are garbage.” Doesn’t sound right, does it?)

In London ,England, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence estimates junk food kills 40,000 Britons a year. Not to mention what it does to British teeth! (Sorry, that was uncalled for.) (I mention British rates because Sam Mendes and Kate Winslet are British.  Or if Kate’s not, she does a great British accent. Hmm, I wonder if they eat junk food? 

Maybe only when they fly, hoping the risk from eating junk food cancels out the risk of a plane crash.  I know, but we’re dealing with people who go through the hassles of taking separate plane flights and think it’s sensible.)

Look, you are well aware that I could toss in a thousand statistics that prove that there are bigger dangers than dying in a plane crash.  But I won’t.  Because statistics and studies don’t change anyone’s mind.


People do NOT think logically.  We just don’t.  We may swear on our mother’s grave we are logical, but that’s obviously illogical.  Especially if mom is alive and within earshot.

If we were logical, humans would all make the logical choice.  We’d reach the logical conclusion and vote for the same politician.  We’d follow the most sensible religion, after calmly comparing statistics to see which faith has the most followers achieving eternal life. If we were logical, we’d examine the stats for plane crashes and food poisoning in restaurants.  And we’d never get behind the wheel of a car!

Despite airbags, crumple zones, and anti-lock brakes, driving or just passenger-ing in a car is truly risky. At least compared to flying. So I assume Kate and Sam took separate limos.  (After the divorce even more so.)

Driving feels safer because that steering wheel feels solid in your hand.  You’re calm. On the plane you’re gripping the armrests, praying that the pilot isn’t going through an ugly divorce.


The funny thing is, I’m rarely calm behind the wheel.  My father was an insurance agent.  Many an evening there was a call from a client who’d been hit, sideswiped, or plowed into by another vehicle. The distraught caller would ask for Mr. Green, I’d hand him the phone, and walk away as he spoke, “Hello… When?… Is anyone hurt?… Good. Don’t worry, it’s just sheet metal. Cars can be fixed…”

Whereas flying?  I’m not afraid.  At all. Until there’s some turbulence… And then suddenly I’m deeply religious, convinced I can keep 100 tons of aluminum in the air by regretting my past transgressions.

I am logical… until someone says, “Boo!” Fear does that. The facts vanish. Common sense and wisdom?  Gone.

Forget that fact that the sky is far more empty and open, forget that every pilot is far more trained than any car driver, forget that the plane has two drivers instead of one… when the plane starts hopping a dropping and wobbling and the Fasten Seat Belt light comes on, I feel a twinge of fear.

It keeps building until I catch myself and see sense. Then I’m in control again. It was just a moment, a silly slip and… OH MY GOD! That was a huge drop! We’re going to crash! Where’s my phone? I have to record a last message!!!


… or maybe I’m the moron. Even seemingly scary stuff like riding a roller coaster, hang-gliding, or getting engaged are things we only do because we believe the roller coaster is well inspected, the hang-glider pilot is very experienced, and our spouse will change once we tie the knot.

It’s all about wanting control.  Heck, most of what we do in a day, including working on our ADHD could be seen as a way to gain control.  Safety.  Certainty.

Now and then I’m nervous when we’re flying.  But I can quickly convince myself that’s silly.  Logic triumphs. Balancing logic, trusting feelings, distinguishing intuition or insight from superstition or magical thinking is always a challenge.


Sometimes I’m calm and confident when I’m driving.  But I can quickly convince myself that’s silly too.  All I have to do is notice how many oncoming drivers are looking down at phones, drinking, eating, yacking, fiddling with the AC or AM-FM.  A few months ago I counted five cars in a row!

I saw a woman using her rear-view mirror to put on her makeup on a six-lane highway!  I’m ashamed to admit I was hoping she’d hit something and the airbag would blow the tube of lipstick up her nostril.  I get like that.  It’s not logical, but…

How I feel is rarely logical… My thoughts?  They feel more logical.  But they’re often fleeting—it’s an ADHD thing.  In fact, I’m usually not certain about anything.

I suppose everyone with ADHD is familiar with uncertainty.  The twinge of doubt after I’ve typed, ‘See the attachment’ and hit SEND.  It’s there every time I open an envelope marked Urgent, or after I post a Blog that I know I’ve read through, scanning for any mistakes.

The lesson from all of this?  Get comfortable with uncertainty.  And beware of over-confidence.  Every time I think my ADHD is under control I’ll notice a typo wrong it a blog that I no eye red threw, scamming four any misstates.

Oh dang!



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  1. bealilli September 30, 2018 at 10:21 am

    You are so funny. I love it.

  2. olsonpb September 30, 2018 at 11:04 am

    Emotions, Logic, control, and perceptions. ADHD seems to put a partially opaque curtain, and semi solid walls with a few, sometimes unique, openings surrounding the Means to use these tools and play the game. I get it, I got it. It sometimes feels like the only certainty I have.

    • olsonpb October 3, 2018 at 3:37 pm

      Fear for me is directly related to uncertainty.
      Control is related more to the actions or potential actions of others.
      Logic has to do more with what is wanted than what should be.

  3. kimla September 30, 2018 at 12:00 pm

    Sometimes, actually most of the time, your blog posts are informative, useful, amusing and insightful. Not this time. Sorry Rick, but this post is very lame.

  4. skedaddler October 2, 2018 at 3:51 am

    Love the image of the plane. You’re WiZZing on fear, uncertainties, over-confidence and sillyness. Good post, love the message (and I needed to read it).

  5. wildweeder October 4, 2018 at 12:42 am

    Thank you Rick Green. So nice to hear about your uncertainty – and therefore realize my uncertainty is not so atypical (at least for someone with ADD)!
    It was reassuring after so much fuss directed at me for being uncertain and therefore unwilling to act like a know-it-all. ;-)
    AND loved your joke at the end!

  6. diamondr October 29, 2018 at 4:12 am

    What a hoot! Thank you for the joy you always give me! It was comforting to know someone else hits send…then begins a 2nd email just to say “oops.” Doing it 3 times in a row? O.K. now we might have the same parents.

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