Stats Made Easy

Practical Tools for Effective Experimentation

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Stats that will be the death of you

The most recent issue of National Geographic magazine features a unique graphic that visualizes your odds of dying by various causes. You can see the chart and underlying statistics at a website maintained by the National Safety Council (NSC). The total odds of dying by any cause in the USA (and possibly in other countries too!) are 1 in 1 or 100 percent. I suggest you get over this without too much thought (maybe later!), and check out the less likely things that could kill you. For example, I see that the odds of dying by earthquake or flood are roughly the same -- less than 1 in 100,000. I'd be more worried living along a coastline in an area riddled with fault lines (take heed you Californians!) than here in Minnesota, although we've got more than our share of lakes and rivers. At about 50,000 to 1 odds, lightning and bee stings create more concern for survival -- ouch! The NSC reports a 1 in 5000 chance that an American will die in an air accident versus only about 1 in 2 million odds that a venomous reptile will put an end to things. However, they do not calculate the deadly combination of Snakes on a Plane. That would be very scary!

"More people die on the last day of their life than on any other day."
–– Statistic purportedly published by the Houston Post on 20 July 1989


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