Want to Know When You're Going to Die? Most Don't

When I was being treated for cancer, I didn't look too far ahead into the future.

Turns out, no one does.  A new study says that, given the choice, nobody really wants to know when they're going to die, newswise.com reports. Whether it's good or bad, people prefer not to know what lies ahead for them, even if they think those events could make them happy, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association..

“In our study, we’ve found that people would rather decline the power to know the future, in an effort to forgo the suffering that knowing the future may cause, avoid regret and also maintain the enjoyment of suspense that pleasurable events provide," says Gerd Gigerenzer, PhD, of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development.

The length of time until an event would occur also played a role: Deliberate ignorance was more likely the nearer the event. For example, older adults were less likely than younger adults to want to know when they or their partner would die, and the cause of death. 

“Wanting to know appears to be the natural condition of humankind, and in no need of justification. People are not just invited but also often expected to participate in early detection for cancer screening or in regular health check-ups, to subject their unborn babies to dozens of prenatal genetic tests, or to use self-tracking health devices,” says Gigerenzer . “Not wanting to know appears counter-intuitive and may raise eyebrows, but deliberate ignorance, as we’ve shown here, doesn’t just exist; it is a widespread state of mind.” 

For me, it's been 10 years now but I still don't want to look into the future.  One thing I've learned from cancer is to take it one day at a time.  No one knows what's coming. And that's such a bad thing to know.


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