I am reading Bill Bryson’s book and he mentions in 1992 a young man ignored posted warnings signs and swam in jellyfish-infested waters, and was stung by lethal jellyfish. He was still screaming in pain even after heavily doped with morphine nad passing out.
We all do it sometimes. We cross the street when the light is red. We walk across the grass when a sign states, “Stay off the grass.” We eat food with fructose despite the warnings not to eat fructose. We smoke although the packages warns about the dangers of smoking. In other words, we disregard — literally — warning signs.
Why is it we ignore signs sometimes? Both benign signs and the “danger” signs. What in the human brain makes us ignore the signs at different (individualized) levels of comfort?
Would we be less likely to ignore signs if the signs also said, “This means you?” My favorite weather forecast was six years ago in The Sierra Nevadas, which forecasted heavy snow and the official National Weather Service forecast added, “There may be a loss of life if travelers drive or venture out into the snow.” If signs spelled out in clear letters the potential consequences — and examples of when those consequences happened — would people still ignroe them? Don’t know, but somehow I wouldn’t be surprised if still quite a few people ignored them. I’ve love to see every warning sign add the words, “This means you” at the bottom 🙂
PS I am pretty good about not jaywalking — unless there are extreme extenuating circumstances, I don’t do it. Partially because I worry about cars I might not see, or cars that might turn into me unexpectedly, but partly too because I feel exposed and naked when crossing against a “don’t walk” sign. Just like I would never cheat on my wife even if she would never find out, I don’t like to cross against red lights even when no one is around. 🙂