The Midas Jones Safety Test


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Taking the Midas Jones Safety Test: Answer the questions below honestly.

  • Are you like this?
    “When I imagine myself on that motorcycle, my imagination goes on to fill in the finishing details. The motorcycle and I become detached from one another in midair. I land, breaking many bones, injuring my spine and brain, and never recover. I also suspect that Social Security will deny my claim for a motorized wheelchair and I will spend the rest of my life in the State Home for the Abandoned and Hopeless.”
    If this is you, give yourself one (1) point.
  • Or, are you more like this?
    “When I imagine myself on that motorcycle, I can only imagine myself landing perfectly and safely, because I’m sure that’s how it would happen. The photograph of me landing perfectly will appear on the front page of all the nation’s newspapers the next day. Beside it would be the photograph of me cradling a gigantic trophy in one arm and the bikini-clad babe (or gorgeous hunk) who presented it to me in the other. And, of course, I will enjoy the hero-worshipping attentions of the babe (or hunk) through the night.”
    If this is you, give yourself two (2) points.

Evaluating your score:

  • If your score is one point then you evaluate safety and risk with the frontal part of your brain. You tend to be cautious, avoid avoidable risk, and think more about long-term gain. You are more of a down-range thinker and spend time preparing for events that are in the distant future.
  • If your score is two points then you evaluate safety and risk more with the anterior portions of your brain. You are more adventurous, are willing to take risks, and imagine that a risky activity will turn out just fine for you. You think more about short-term gain and figure that you will handle the future when it arrives. 
  • If your score is three or more points then you need to take a minute to re-read the directions and give it a second whack.

Caveat: The “Midas Jones Safety Test” was not created using scientific methods. Only you can determine whether your score correctly assesses your attitude toward risk and your position on a risk/caution spectrum. A score of 2 on this test does not guarantee that you will not be hurt while jumping 50 cars on a motorcycle.


On This Page:

Take the Midas Jones Safety Test. Find out whether you are a risk-taker or a risk-avoider.

Safety: Its all in your head.



Risk Taking versus Risk Avoiding:

Safety Is All In Your Head


The amount of risk that different people are willing to take in life varies. You can imagine a spectrum with Evel Kneivel (motorcycle stunt man) at one end and Minerva Gooch (shy seventy year old librarian, never married, no children, worked the counter at the city library for fifty years) at the other. Why is one person willing to jump 50 cars riding a motorcycle and the other is unwilling to reach inside a drawer for fear that a spider might be inside?


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Remember the Machiavellian proverb, “You are your brain.” Predictably, risk-taking varies because brain structure varies. Adolescents take many, many foolish risks because the part of their brains that assess risk do not develop until well into the twenties. We can speculate that risk-taking varies from individual to individual, just like intelligence, compassion, anger, and depression do. Different brains think differently. Some brains can only imagine the outcome they desire.


A friend of mine had a teenaged son who was fond of fast driving and heavy drinking. After being ticketed for DUI and speeding numerous times, the DA became impatient with his recklessness and was threatening him with a short jail term to teach him better behavior. Pending trial, his license was suspended. My friend hired an expensive lawyer to try to keep the boy out of the hoosegow. A couple of weeks before the lad’s trial, my friend called her boy at his college dorm to make arrangements for him to fly home so that he could appear in court. He said, “I don’t want to fly. I’m going to drive so I’ll have my car with me while I’m home. I plan to spend a lot of time with my friends and I’ll need a car.”


She said, “But your license has been suspended! What if you get caught driving without a license?”


With the impatient annoyance that only a teenager can voice, he said, “Mother, don’t be ridiculous! I’m not going to get caught!”


This from a young man who was about to go to jail precisely because he had been caught so many times speeding and driving drunk. He could only imagine the outcome that he desired: that he would drive home at ninety miles per hour and not be noticed by the police. He also imagined that his expensive lawyer would fix his legal problems and have his driver’s license quickly restored so he could enjoy extended time with his friends.


(It turned out that his wealthy mother and expensive lawyer did get the boy off without a conviction. They even got his license restored. When I asked her how this could have possibly been the outcome - given the boy’s driving record - his mother merely smiled and told me that she recommended the pasta.)



Chapter 20



Download or read online: Machiavelli’s Prince in English translation by W. K. Rowling


Read a brief summary of Machiavelli’s life and works,

written by W. K. Rowling as the Introduction to his translation of The Prince


A readable summary of Machiavelli’s Prince can be found at





The Modern Prince:

Better Living Through Machiavellianism


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