Friday, May 3, 2013

How rational are your fears?

Here's a chance to measure your worries against statistics. (I'm assuming these stats are reasonably accurate, but I certainly have not verified any of them.) It's easy to do thanks to a very well conceived graph. Compare your big death worries against the chance they will happen (at least in the last century).

A couple of observations. Look at airplane accidents which confirms what we've said in the past. Also, I found interesting ideology deaths: communism vs democracy vs fascism, although, in defense of communism and fascism, they had some unusual circumstances. However, maybe "unusual circumstances" are the norm for those ideologies. Also, related to this current news story—and confirmed by the graph—perhaps parents should be more worried about suicide than car accidents.


Peter H of Lebo said...
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Peter H of Lebo said...

This graphical info makes me love the 21th century. The 20th, we competed against major wars, the crazy terrible influenza that killed more than all wars humanity could possible contrive. Also HIV, a disease that preys on what we love most to do. 20th stunk. With all the faults of the 21th, these first 13 years in the new century parents shouldn't stop kids from driving or fighting in wars or avoiding the kid with the cough. Our biggest killer is eating too much. Who says every generation deals with the same problems? Right now, each new generation is better and fatter.

James R said...

If we could only change our "bigger is better" mentality.
Although in that way the first 13 years of the 21st is, unfortunately, no different that the 20th. By far the biggest killer subcategory of death was cardiovascular (under non-comunicable disease).

Big Myk said...

Like Pete, I have every confidence that the 21st century will be an improvement over the 20th, especailly if you believe Steven Pinker. See The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades.

Let's not be too hard, however, on the 20th century. Life expectancy in this country for people born in 1900 was 47. For those born in 2000, it was 77. That's a 64% increase. For American blacks alone, life expectancy was 33 in 1900. In 2000 it was 72. That's more than double, a 118% increase. Let's see if the 21st century can produce these same kind of numbers. Of course, I'm counting on the likes of Pete , Mike ands Isobel to pull this off.

James R said...

How about the 22nd? We can always hope forever.

But back to the data, I'm disappointed in the lack of mention of deer—under animals. They give snakes the title for most deaths. (Snakes, Myk, snakes!) What about deer?

If we look at the U.S. and more recently, it's bee/wasp (53/yr) and dogs (31) which should be your worst fears. However deer shatter those death records with 130 per year, almost 3 times the nearest competitor. (2nd paragraph)

Big Myk said...

I guessed I missed the animal deaths part of the chart. It seems that most human deaths caused by animals over the last century were caused by snakes.

This was, of course, very disturbing to me and I did some Google checking. And, yes, it appears that, especially in India, snakes are a significant cause of human death. We need only think of Nag and Nagaina from Kipling's story, "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi." Both snakes were pretty tough characters.

Kipling, though, didn't always portray snakes as so bad. Kaa the python, although always mysterious, was one of Mowgli's mentors and friends, along with Baloo and Bagheera, and was able to help him out from time to time.

Kipling also provides us with one of the greatest characters in all literature, who happens to be a snake: the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake from "The Elephant's Child." Not only is he a stand up guy -- he saves the Elephant's Child from being pulled into the water by a crocodile by "knott[ing] himself in a double-clove-hitch round the Elephant's Child's hind legs," and shows him the advantages of his newly formed trunk -- but he has also uttered some of the most memorable lines found in any book.

One of my favorites is said immediately after the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake knots himself around the Elephant Child's legs: "Rash and inexperienced traveller, we will now seriously devote ourselves to a little high tension, because if we do not, it is my impression that yonder self-propelling man-of-war with the armour-plated upper deck" (and by this, O Best Beloved, he meant the Crocodile), "will permanently vitiate your future career."

And then there's the serpent in the garden trying to sell Adam and Eve the knowledge of good and evil, and so introduced Ethics.