'Choices': Guaranteed small loss or a probable larger loss, injury or fatality?

You have been blown-out for 4 weekends in a row and you now have an opportunity to dive this weekend as the weather is fabulous and the visibility has been reported as 10m+. However, you aren’t due to dive for another four weeks for a variety of reasons. Just as you getting your gear ready to put on, you notice that you have a malfunction with your gear, something manageable but will cause you additional workload and reduce your margin of safety on the dive. This is a failure you wouldn’t normally accept because you get to dive lots. If you don’t dive, your buddy will have to sit out too as there isn’t anybody else to dive with them at such short notice. What do you do?

At this point, you are managing uncertainty not a risk because the numbers are not calculable. You decide to dive and nothing adverse happens and you have an awesome dive.

Are you reflective of your management of uncertainty? Did you think it was ‘good’?

But what if two or three...

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'Entirely Predictable' vs 'Managing Uncertainty': How many rolls on the dice?

decision making risk Jul 22, 2018

A couple of social media posts about diving incidents and near misses have triggered this blog because the term ‘entirely predictable outcome’ has been used to highlight that someone shouldn’t have done what they did because it was obvious that it would end up with an injury or death. The problem is that such statements, as they applied to those particular situations, are false, even when the commentators are biased because of hindsight.

To explore this, let's look at the dictionary definitions of ‘entirely predictable’. Entirely means ‘completely’ or ‘to the full extent’ and predictable means ‘always behaving or occurring in the same way as expected’. So entirely predictable means that on 100% of occasions the outcome would be as it was experienced in the particular occasions. If this was true, people would not do things which ended up with them injured or dead (unless they truly had suicidal tendencies, and those...

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Blood, Banks and Diving: The value of knowledge, experience and training

The body contains millions of cells, a fraction of which are blood cells. Those cells are broadly split into two types, red blood cells for carrying nutrients and oxygen to the tissues and recovering the waste and CO2 for disposal, and white blood cells which are used to fight ‘bad stuff’ that is in our bodies such as germs and viruses. They both have their purpose but their contribution to the productivity of the human body is somewhat skewed.

By that I mean if we were to look at their productivity over an average year, the red blood cells are really productive, they are used all the time and they support the body’s needs on a second-by-second, minute-by-minute basis. If we stopped the flow of oxygen to the tissues by preventing oxygen being picked up e.g. carbon monoxide poisoning, then the tissues would die relatively quickly. Compare that to the white blood cells, which are primarily used when an infection or anti-body is detected and the body responds by...

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How Much Are You Willing to Risk?

I have just finished reading a chapter in Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking. Fast and Slow." about decision-making, risk perception and gambling which I thought had some interesting parallels in the world of sport diving, especially given some recent fatalities where comments have been made about crass stupidity or the divers were Darwin Award candidates. As I am very keen to promote Just Culture, which recognises that sometimes we make decisions which appear to be contrary to common sense, I thought I would reproduce some of the arguments/theories here in the blog. Feel free to post/share wherever and like this blog.

The premise is based on the following three questions which are lifted from the book.

Problem 1: You are offered a gamble on the toss of a coin. If the coin shows tails, you lose 100. If the coin shows heads, you win 150.

Is this gamble attractive? Would you accept it? To make this choice, you must balance the psychological benefit of getting 150 against the psychological cost...

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