Feel the Fear and Don’t Do It.


That’s me and flying I am afraid. I used not to mind too much. People can attest to this. The same people who might say to me now that I should just pull myself together and stop acting more and more like one crazy lady! But I believe I am right to be afraid and quantum mechanics explains why.

I promise never to mention quantum mechanics or physics hereafter, except perhaps in relation to horseracing and the Kent coast which we can see from here (but not always – tree in a forest falling?), but today I will explain and then park the thought.

The fuss I make of driving in the dark intrigued me. I don’t like it and it makes me drive with extreme caution. In the daylight I am almost blase – I can even be found speeding. So why the in-the-dark collywobbles; surely I am not scared of it? I think it is this. Quantum mechanics says that (and I don’t confess to understand much) whilst an event is in motion there are any number of probabilities that exist equally until the event is observed. So when I drive in the daylight I am driving with the probability that I will arrive safely, get out of the car and that is the end of the panoply of possibility. Of course I am driving with many other possibilities and outcomes too, but they are reduced given the daylight. At night I am also living with the probabilities of my imagination – that the road will run out, that I will not see something, that I will fall asleep and so on. In quantum mechanics these probabilities of the imagination count, as amplitude.  So my fear of driving in the dark now seems a rational response to the range of probabilities alive in my mind.

Flying, on this basis, creates so many probabilities that I can’t actually cope! I can’t look into the pilots’ eyes before I get on the plane, get them breathalysed and ask if they have had a row with their spouse. I can’t check the fuselage, the engines, that the doors are closed properly. Every bizarre and statistically unlikely plane accident is a possibility in my mind. My rational mind tells me that the likelihood is that I will arrive in one piece, but on a wave and particle level there are many chances that I won’t.

This links to an “interesting” forum for pilots. I read this a bit when the Air France place tragically and unexpectedly plummeted into the sea earlier this year. I am not saying it is recommended reading but there is a thread on the whole allegedly drunk pilot arrested at Heathrow situation!


Actually, with such gems as this:

 “Can a regular drinker fly a plane?  Surely. But, do we want someone who can “function” half-snockered at the pointy end?”

 if you don’t read it you are missing out!

I think I have to conclude that it is not that I am scared of flying; it is that I am scared of not flying in a thousand different ways.

P.S. This is one of the ways  (plane hits warthog, Harare). 


Posted on November 11, 2009, in Hard work is this blogging, News and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Thank you,
    very interesting article

  2. Thank you for your comment Ostrov 🙂

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