Does humidity affect judgment?

I just turned another year dumber and I'm becoming concerned about my ability to make good decisions. I thought judgment improved with age but apparently that isn't always the case. I've demonstrated some poor judgment recently.

The most recent example of poor judgment occurred on Friday. There was a 50% chance of rain on Thursday with a 70% change of rain Thursday night. The rain was expected to last through noon Friday. It started raining shortly after I got home Thursday night and it rained all night. When I got ready for work Friday morning, I looked outside and observed that it was very cloudy and cool, the street was all wet, water was standing in the gutters, and there was a very light drizzle falling. My thinking went like this:
  • It rained all night.
  • It's raining now.
  • I probably should take the car today.
  • I want to ride the motorcycle as much as possible.
  • I'll get wet walking out to the car.
  • I might loose my parking space.
  • It doesn't look like it's raining very hard.
  • I shouldn't be afraid of a little rain.
  • I'll ride the motorcycle.
My thinking did NOT include the following:
  • The forecast calls for rain through noon today.
  • This is just a lull in the storm.
  • There will be standing water in the streets.
  • I'll get splashed by cars.
  • Everyones visibility will be reduced.
  • It will be slick in places.
  • There will be debris and gravel in the street.
  • I don't have rain gear.
  • I'll get wet and cold.
  • I'll need a change of closes (including shoes.)
  • I will take the car.
Good judgment is the ability to fairly assess the available information, understand the potential consequences, being able to predict the possible outcomes, and reach a sensible decision.

As a result of my failure to fairly and accurately assess the situation I made a poor decision and incurred the consequences, such as they were, of my poor judgment. Everything was fine for the first couple of blocks but then the rain picked up again. I even thought about turning back but decided to press on. I was getting rained on and splashed on and was dodging puddles. I had to open my visor just to see! By the time I got to work my shoes, socks and pants were soaked all the way through - and I didn't have anything to change into.

I was fortunate that was the extent of the consequences of my actions. It could have been worse. With poor visibility and wet streets I could have hit someone or been hit by them. I could have stopped on a slick spot and fallen over, or I could have hit a pothole hidden under a puddle and been thrown off. I was lucky all that happened was that I got soaking wet and cold. I also got some mild chastising from some people at work.

If I'm having difficulty making sound decisions then something must be clouding my judgment. What could it be? I know that physical health, drugs and alcohol, mental health, and fatigue can all affect judgment. I'm in reasonably good health, I don't do drugs and I only have one beer every 3 months, I'm not talking to any six foot tall invisible white rabbits, and I'm sleeping alright. Maybe something else is affecting my judgment.

Impatience and over confidence also affect judgment. Impatience can short-circuit the whole decision making process by ignoring important facts and potential consequences. Over confidence leads to over estimating skills and abilities, and under estimating risks.

I think I found the problem. I was impatient. I was annoyed by the rain. I wanted to ride my motorcycle and I was confident in my abilities. I ignored many of the facts and underestimated many of the risks.

I shouldn't be so hard on myself. I make as many good decisions as I do poor ones. I suspect that is true for most people. If you're not making mistakes its only because you aren't doing anything (or you're dead.)

I need to be more cognizant of the fact that my skills and reflexes aren't what they use to be, and my physical stamina is waning. If I slow down and be more deliberative when making decisions, and pay more attention to things that may skew my thinking (impatience, over confidence, etc.), I can make more good decisions than poor ones.

I should make an appointment with the Doctor for a Physical exam too.

See also:
I am so embarrassed
My First Ride
I buy a motorcycle and it starts raining! (updated)
Motorcycle gear shift sequence
Basic Motorcycle Rider Course

2 comments:

Kenneth said...

HAHA, Great Post!

Anonymous said...

Opening your visor in the rain? You must have been going slow. Because what happens is... the rain HITS your face and when it does it does Not feel like water. But small pin pricks. And it hits your eyes. THAT will reduce your vision more than some water on the visor which blows off anyway.

As for reason? Nah, you're just getting back to a free-er you. Kids go out in the rain. The kid inside you wants to as well.

I don't mind getting soaked when I ride. But do try to do it so I only get wet on the way home. Otherwise, it's exhilarating.

Plus, every time you ride in the wet gains you experience.

Stay upright and ride within your capabilities

Michael