More on cognitive overconfidence

I've written about our (i.e., human beings') tendency to have too much confidence in our own conscious control. Apparently, another way in which we have such overconfidence is in our ability to manage talking on a cell phone while driving. I have had such overconfidence, myself.

Sadly, I think this is never going to change solely as a result of top-down legislation. Top-down legislation may help, but if it is unpopular, it will not come close ot adequately reducing the problem. Too many people do it with bravado. The police could not possibly stop them all, even if they were motivated to do so.

What we need is a concerted grass-roots campaign, as MADD did a couple of decades ago, to enhance the social stigma against cell chats and to make people more aware of the risks. Have an ad campaign showing children who have died when killed by a cell chatter. Have the commercials answer the most usual rationalizations - it is indeed different from chatting with a passenger, hands-free does not appear to be all that much safer, etc. Hit the schools with the message early and often. William Saletan has some good suggestions on how the government might then capitalize on the beginnings of such a social stigma.

As a related aside, people often talk about mother love as a tender, gentle, beautiful thing. Ahem. I have never been a violent person, in thought or deed. Now that I am a mom, I have never had such vicious violent murderous impulses as I've had when I am driving with my child and fetus in tow, and I see another driver engaged in reckless and/or aggressive driving behavior. That, and the cruel fact that I'd much rather save my child's life than the lives of a thousand strangers, suggests to me that feminist philosophers might want to rethink that whole ethics of care business.


  1. I've several friends who refuse to talk with me when I call them while I'm driving. That peer pressure is pretty effective (though I find it annoying at the time). Sorry about any spelling errors; I'm writing this comment while trimming my nose hair and driving 95mph on the interstaaaaihGLBGIUYFDHIO:DSkl*&^

  2. I haven't studied much Feminist Theory, but what little I've seen suggests that feminists pick exactly the opposite of what evolutionary psychology would suggest. As you note, mother love is not universalist in outlook. Back when I hiked in bear country, the absolute last thing I wanted to see were bear cubs. Mama bear was always nearby, and the easiest choice for her was to kill anything that might be the slightest threat to her cubs.

    On a small tangent, do you know how to tell the difference between a grizzly bear and a black bear? If a bear attacks, climb a tree. The black bear will climb up, knock you out of the tree, and kill you. The grizzly will just knock the tree down and then kill you.