Statistical Abberation

This post was first published on LinkedIn! You can find the original here.

We all think we’re normal. It’s how we’re wired. If our friends and our peers and our family all believe a thing, and we also believe that thing, it makes total sense to us that most people believe that thing. And why shouldn’t they? We know our beliefs are the rational result of observing the world, and any person put in our circumstances would come to just the same conclusions.

Except, that they wouldn’t. Because another thing we humans tend to do is seek out people who agree with us. Radical Democrats are more likely to be friends with democrats, and “know” that “everyone” thinks socialism is a great idea. Radical Republicans are more likely to be friends with republicans and “know” that “everyone” thinks that owning twenty-seven guns is a vital necessity.

Then, you put those two people in a room together, and it quickly degrades into a screaming match, because each of them knows they’re the normal one—it’s this other guy that’s the weirdo or lunatic.

We all know it’s a problem, but we rarely think of ourselves as part of it. So today, I decided to ask a question to myself and my friends for just a little bit of self-awareness: “What beliefs do you and your friends hold that would be considered highly unusual by a majority of Americans? Show your work with math.”

GMOs are Good:

General Population: 7%, Friend Group: 92%

Nobody has ever died from eating genetically modified food. Never. In fact, there’s no concrete proof anyone has ever so much as gotten sick from eating GMO food. It’s cheap, it’s nutritious, it’s efficient, and it has so much potential to alleviate third world hunger.

Also, if you’re against genetic engineering and own a purebred dog, I have some bad news for you.

Transhumanism:

General Population: <1%, Friend Group: 70%

You remember getting polio as a kid? No, you don’t. Because we killed polio. Specifically, science killed it. Killed it so dead it is not a thing anymore. And transhumanists think that science has a lot more bad-thing-killing left in it. We can kill cancer, genetic abnormalities, mental disorders, physical weakness, and the elephant in the room: aging. With time and care and some research grants, we can make a world without illness.

Come on, admit it. If a doctor offered you never-get-old pills, you’d take them. And you might get some cool robot parts out of it too.

Terrorism is Not a Problem:

General Population: 12%, Friend Group: 82%

This year, 198 American citizens died from mass shootings, bombings, and all other acts that might generally be described as “terrorism.” Over that same time span, ninety people died from lightning strikes. I therefore demand that for every two hours the news media spends covering terrorism, they dedicate a full hour to God’s wrath upon the US in the form of thunderbolts.

I’m not saying terrorism hasn’t had a huge impact on the course of world events, but the only reason it can do that because we’re afraid of it. Its only power is fear. Come on, guys, “terror” is right in the name. I know it’s an overused quote, but seriously: the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

Atheism:

General Population: 20%, Friend Group: 96%

I was joking about God’s wrath earlier. Lightning (and by extension, thunder) is actually caused by completely explicable natural phenomenon. Also I don’t like getting up early on Sunday.

Attending an Ivy League School is Normal:

General Population: 0.03%, Friend Group: 60%

I use the word “alumni,” unironically. (Alumnus? Whatever.) I have strong opinions on how Cornell’s Board of Trustees is managing the creation of the new business campus. When people tell me where they went to school, I ask: “And how is [School Name] doing these days?” like they’ve given it one look since they graduated. I sometimes say things like: “Eh, where you went to school doesn’t matter; a degree is a degree,” without thinking about it.

Also, just to clarify, when Cornell does this, it’s just because the school has a very loyal network. When Yale does this, it’s because they’re a bunch of elitist snobs. Totally different thing.

LinkedIn is Clearly the Best Blogging Platform:

General Population: <1%, Friend Group: 0%

Wait, is this one just me? It’s literally just me? Okay, my bad guys.

Still! Not bad. It was fun to stop and consider all the ways I’m a little outside the standard deviation. So I’m going to put it to the group and ask: What about all of you? What beliefs do you have that your friends are totally onboard with, but that would make the average person raise an eyebrow?

Leave a comment! Inquiring minds want to know.

Tristan Morris