…okay, first installment of the blog merger.
Here’s the thing: I think motorbikes are great. I have no taste whatever, I like Kawasaki and Yamaha just as much as Harley-Davidson and Triumph – I just like motorbikes.
However, due to various things, I have been strongly discouraged – pretty much from the age I could say motorcycle – from ever owning or riding one. Lack of licence is the major hurdle at the moment, but lack of getting-a-motorcycle-while-you-live-under-our-roof-young-lady is up there too.
My mum rode a motorbike and admits it’s fun, but that she did fall off once or twice. My uncle rode a motorbike and got into a nasty accident. Another uncle’s friend was killed on a motorbike (I think – everybody’s fairly vague on the details). My dad’s job brings home screeds of paper with the statistics for the relative danger of motorbikes over bicycles or even cars. (My degree has made me deeply wary of data-interpretation as a means of argument; I know what you can do to it between gathering and presenting!)
So yes, most of my family is dead set against.
Thing is, that’s family. Family are right into quelling the risky impulses of their youth, and say ‘but we like you, we want you to be safe’ and you accept that, and it’s okay, but you still sometimes think they’re exaggerating, that it would be fine. Because they’re parents, and because that’s what parents do, they go a bit over the top sometimes to try and keep their kids alive and intact.
But I was talking to someone the other day, a grownup, who has precisely no reason to care what happens to me, and he said pretty much what my parents do: ‘motorcycles are fun but dangerous,’ ‘if you survive your first year on a motorbike your risk goes down a little, but that’s a big if,’ ‘I’ve had a couple of friends killed on motorcycles – one wiped out going around a corner, it’s easy to do’.
And that makes a difference. When you’re talking to someone who does not care – especially if you have a science background and the ingrained respect for unbiased data that goes with it – and you have fairish reason to trust them not to lie just for the heck of it – and they’re saying exactly what you’ve heard a hundred times…
You do something you’d never do when your parents are saying the same thing again for the nth time. You pause. You think about it, instead of brushing it off as just more vain repetition as the pagans do. (Because that does happen when you hear the same thing, from the same people, over and over and over, you learn to tune it out.)
It’s like the difference between reading two scientific studies on the dangers of tobacco, one funded by the American Cancer Society, and the other done as a Master’s degree thesis project funded by scholarships and university grant money. The data isn’t necessarily different, and the interpreted results could be identical, but one has an ulterior motive, and the other doesn’t.
I still think motorbikes are cool. The old subconscious still vaguely suspects deep down that my parents know this and are trying to spoil it. The conscious is aware there is now known, unbiased, and therefore moderately empirical evidence (O shades of Nobel laureates past, forgive me) that my parents have a point.
Thanks for reading.