Who’s Kidney Is This?


Let’s see if you can solve this riddle. In Germany, only 12% of drivers are organ donors. In Austria, it’s 99%. How can this be when two countries share so many similarities culturally. Could religion be the culprit? Could it be some sort of historical burden that the countries carry? Did the Archduke Ferdinand have anything to do with this? Did the memory of the Third Reich have some sort of an effect on modern Germans?

What could it be?

The answer is so simple that it’s both magical and horrifying at the same time when thinking about the implications in our lives.

It’s the default. In Germany, you have to opt into the organ donor program whereas in Austria, you have to opt out.

It’s that simple. The funny thing is if you were to ask a German or Austrian why they are a donor or not after the fact, the reason given will have nothing to do with opt in vs. opt out. Each person will have come up with her own philosophical/moral answer by then as to why.

Now think about the power defaults have on our everyday lives. Magazine subscriptions, whatever is on the shelf at the store, your home page on your browser, the length of your snooze button, meeting time lengths, DVR settings. Think about the defaults that might be taking away some of your freedom and free time, or those that might be keeping you paralyzed. The trick is making your daily defaults fall to the things you say you want to be doing more of: working out, reading, writing, spending time with your family, etc.

After thinking about it, what defaults are holding you down?