These days, it’s tough to know what to worry about. Resistant bacteria? Cancer? Global warming?

As it turns out, you’re not going to get any extra help from your brain. Although the human brain is well adapted to respond to risk, it’s not so skilled at sorting out which modern risks to worry about. The current issue of Psychology Today explains why in its article “10 Ways We Get the Odds Wrong.'’

“Our biases reflect the choices that kept our ancestors alive. But we have yet to evolve similarly effective responses to statistics, media coverage, and fear-mongering politicians….Though emotions are themselves critical to making rational decisions, they were designed for a world in which dangers took the form of predators, not pollutants.”

Part of the problem is that our emotions have evolved to help our brains make “lightning fast” assessments about risk before we have a chance to think. Things that have been around awhile — snakes and spiders, for instance, scare us. But bigger risks, such as fast driving, don’t trigger the same instinctive response. “Our emotions push us to make snap judgments that once were sensible — but may not be anymore,'’ the author, Maia Szalavitz, writes.

Fear also strengthens memory, the magazine reports. So catastrophes like plane crashes and terrorist attacks stay with us. “As a result, we overestimate the odds of dreadful but infrequent events and underestimate how risky ordinary events are,'’ the author writes.

The problem is, this leads to bad decisions. The magazine notes that after Sept. 11, 1.4 million people changed their travel plans to avoid flying, choosing to drive instead. Driving is far more dangerous. The decision caused roughly 1,000 additional auto fatalities, the magazine reports.

The magazine details several other fascinating examples of how we get risk wrong. We underestimate things that creep up on us, which helps explain why we fear cancer more than heart disease. Having control gives us a false sense of calm, which explains why we worry about pesticides on our foods, even as we use weed killer in our own yards.

And notably, we seem to need a constant level of risk in our lives, which leads to “risk compensation'’ and explains why people end up speeding once they put a seatbelt on.