Saturday, July 09, 2005

availability heuristic

Worried about shark attacks at the beach this summer? Well, you should be more worried about the drive there, as you're more likely to die on the way there in an automobile accident. If you really want something to worry about at the beach, worry about being injured by jellyfish, stingrays and poisonous catfish, because they're much more likely to harm beachgoers.

What's more likely to bite you than a shark? A domesticated pig. There is some good news, however. You're more likely to win the lottery than get bitten by a shark.

What's more likely to kill you than a shark? A dog, tornado, bicycle accident, snake, bee, aligator, mountain lion, deer, falling coconut and eating peanuts.

Cause of death Lifetime odds
Shark attack 1 in 3,700,000
Amusement-park ride 1 in 920,000
West Nile virus 1 in 520,000
Bear attack 1 in 410,000
Plague 1 in 240,000
Fireworks 1 in 230,000
Hurricane 1 in 220,000
Asteroid impact 1 in 200,000
Dog attack 1 in 147,717
Earthquake 1 in 131,890
Snake, bee or other venomous bite or sting 1 in 100,000
Lightning strike 1 in 83,930
Tornado 1 in 60,000
Legal execution 1 in 58,618
Flood 1 in 30,000
Airplane accident 1 in 20,000
Lightning 1 in 39,000
Drowning in a bathtub 1 in 11,000
Pregnancy and childbirth 1 in 9,900
Electrocution 1 in 5,000
Being killed by an intimate partner 1 in 1,800
Flu 1 in 1,700
Fire or smoke 1 in 1,116
Falling down 1 in 246
Homicide 1 in 240
Suicide 1 in 121
Automobile accident 1 in 88
Pneumonia 1 in 57
Diabetes 1 in 53
Stroke 1 in 23
All cancers 1 in 7
Heart disease 1 in 4

Sources: National Center for Health Statistics, CDC; American Cancer Society; National Safety Council; International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; World Health Organization; USGS; Clark Chapman, SwRI; David Morrison, NASA; Michael Paine, Planetary Society Australian Volunteers; Risk: A Practical Guide for Deciding What's Really Safe and What's Really Dangerous in the World Around You by David Ropeik and George Gray (Houghton Mifflin, 2002).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have "lightning" and "lightning strike" as different items. Why?


11/7/05 00:37  
Blogger Joshua Karstendick said...

For the unique pleasure of irking you, Marc.

Honestly, I was combining stats from several sources, so I guess lightning showed up in two of them.

11/7/05 17:20  

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