In the course of the threads about bicycle helmets, many people have made comments based on their intuition. It just seems impossible that forcing people to wear helmets hasn't made cycling safer. It just feels wrong that helmets don't seem to make any difference in terms of injury severity or crash survival rates.
People often feel so strongly about their feelings that they flatly deny the observed facts. This isn't unusual; indeed many bicycle helmet researchers do the same; I don't have the link to hand, but I have a great piece of research where the researcher found that helmet wearing (or not) had no statistical bearing on the injury severity of cyclists (whereas being drunk did; the study looked at both). However, the report concluded that helmet laws would be a good thing! That's a bit like a drug company admitting that a new drug showed no benefit in a trial, but that people should take it anyway.
However, intuition is very often wrong. I've become quite interested in this, and in fact it almost now seems to me that pretty much everything in the modern world is counter-intuitive! Our intuition developed tends of thousands of years ago, and clearly conferred evolutionary advantages when we lived in caves. However, it is very poorly suited to the modern world.
The following is a very good demonstration of this. If you have the time, read through the following and see what you think...
The Monty Hall Problem
You have been invited onto a TV game show, and excitingly have reached the final round. in front of you are three doors, all different colours. Behind one of the doors is the star prize - your dream bicycle, coupled with the bike holiday you've always wanted to go on. However, two of the doors have no prize behind them.
'Well, now's the time to make your decision!' says the host. 'Behind one of the doors is the star prize! Which door will you choose?'
You ummm and ahhh, and plump for one of the doors.
'You chose the red door!' says the host. 'Lets hope you chose wisely!'
The lights dim, and a gentle drum-roll starts. 'We can open the red door,' says the host. 'However, before we do that, I'm going to remove one of the doors you didn't choose - and it's one of the dummy doors!'
"It's a good job you didn't choose the green door, as there's no prize there!'
The audience let out a collective gasp, and the spotlight on the green door goes out, leaving just your red door and the other door illuminated. "Thank goodness!" you think, "I didn't choose the green door! Perhaps I did choose the right one, as it's either 'my' door, or the other one!"
"Now,' says the host, 'as you've been such a great contestant, I'm going to give you another option. If you want to, you can change from the red door to the other one. Or you can stick with your first choice. You've got five seconds to decide - change door, or not?'
What should you do to have the best chance of winning the prize? Stick with the red door, or switch? Think quickly, and stick your thoughts down below!