October 24th, 2010


QotD: Risk Takers

Children born today with a diminutive level of worry--those whose emotional physiology underreacts to stress, novelty, and threat--grow up to become criminals much more often than average. Criminality has long been known to be partially heritable, and a worry volume set to "low" in the reptilian brain is part of the mechanism.
--Lewis, Amini and Lannon in A General Theory of Love p49

What interests me in their assessment of the value of risk aversion and its opposite as mentioned above, is that these physicians note no value in being a risk taker, only increased criminality. They mention that "Many of our ultralow-anxiety ancestors were bitten by snakes, gored by tusks, and fell out of trees. Those premature deaths shifted the gene pool toward higher trepidation." By my own observation, people who are less risk averse are more likely to be found in sports such as whitewater kayaking, backcountry skiing and paragliding. This is where I've found several of my dearest friends, and they are not, by and large, criminals. Also, Dr Thom continues to tell us that entrepreneurs are risk takers, much different from the rest of the population. The statistics show us that most entrepreneurs are male, which begs the question, are men more likely to be risk takers? I think so. And I don't think that this disposition is any guarantee of criminality, though it certainly does increase the odds that rules and laws will be taken with a grain of potassium. Another question: if it is so, then why are males less risk averse? I think evolution offers answers to that one also.