When I was a little kid, I used to be terrified that there was something under my bed.
Monster? Dragon? Alien? I didn’t know… but it was scary.
I’d try not to get out of bed in the middle of the night because I thought something would grab my leg.
If I stayed in bed, nothing would happen.
But… if I ventured out… something would grab me and pull me under…
Clearly this was a fear that I sourced from some movie. The only thing under my bed was dust and some boxes.
It’s amazing what your mind can make you think.
We try to fill in the blanks of things we don’t understand.
Humans relate to stories. If we only have a couple pieces of information, then we make a story in our head to justify the information.
Here’s what I knew about nighttime and my bed:
I can’t see in the dark + I can’t see under my bed = There must be a monster under there.
Makes sense when you’re a kid. But, that is totally irrational.
When you grow older and wiser, you become much more rational… right?
NO! In fact, we can become even more irrational! We make more assumptions and we create more sophisticated false stories to justify information we don’t understand.
So, when I saw that the US Department of State updated their travel warning for Mexico, I had a little laugh.
Look, I’m not saying you can’t get in trouble in Mexico. If you search for danger, you will definitely find it.
(Personally, I have traveled to Mexico dozens of times. Maybe even more than 100. I have never had a serious problem. I’ve driven from border to border, all over Baja, and all over the Mainland with no issues.)
But, here is something that will put this travel warning into perspective.
Of the top 40 most dangerous cities in the world (based on murder rates):
How many do you think are in Mexico?
Acapulco, Culiacan, and Tijuana. Three cities in the top 40.
How many do you think are in the US?
St. Louis, Baltimore, Detroit, and New Orleans. Four cities in the top 40.
When it comes to murders, the US has more cities in the top 40 than Mexico.
Now, I’m not saying that the US is more dangerous than Mexico. In fact, Mexico ranks as the 22nd most dangerous country, while the US comes in at number 50.
But, I haven’t heard about any travel warnings for US cities.
And, in the US Department of State travel warning, they mention over 50 Mexican cities to avoid.
Now, let’s think about how this works the other way around.
Remember how investing in the housing market was ‘bomb-proof’ in 2006? Well, we all know how that turned out.
How about investing in internet stocks in 2000?
The perception that ‘everything is fine’ can be perceived just as easily as ‘there is a monster under my bed.’
This is a hard thing to do…
Your mind wants to make a narrative out of limited facts.
To this day, I still think someone is going to grab my leg when I step out of bed.
But it never happens.