One of the biggest legitimate beefs with the media and our own silly perceptions of the way the world works is how foolish we are with the math of death. Breathless news reports talk about a death here or a few deaths there, ignoring the fact that death….happens a lot. Only by a good review of the statistics can we begin to understand the significance – or in many case the insignificance – of reports of violence and death. We tend to confuse “unusual” or “interesting” events with significant ones, and I think this is getting worse as the media increasingly depends on keeping the prurient interest of mathematically inept viewers.
From Centers for Disease Control – 2007 stats:
Mortality experience in 2007
In 2007, a total of 2,423,712 resident deaths were registered in the United States.
The age-adjusted death rate, which takes the aging of the population into account, was 760.2 deaths per 100,000 U.S. standard population.
Life expectancy at birth was 77.9 years.
The 15 leading causes of death in 2007 were:
Diseases of heart (heart disease)
Malignant neoplasms (cancer)
Cerebrovascular diseases (stroke)
Chronic lower respiratory diseases
Accidents (unintentional injuries)
Diabetes mellitus (diabetes)
Influenza and pneumonia
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis (kidney disease)
Intentional self-harm (suicide)
Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis
Essential hypertension and hypertensive renal disease (hypertension)
In 2007, the infant mortality rate was 6.75 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.
Here are the numbers for the top 10 (also from CDC for 2007)
- Heart disease: 616,067
- Cancer: 562,875
- Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 135,952
- Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 127,924
- Accidents (unintentional injuries): 123,706
- Alzheimer’s disease: 74,632
- Diabetes: 71,382
- Influenza and Pneumonia: 52,717
- Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 46,448
- Septicemia: 34,828
Breathless news reports talk about a death here or a few deaths there, ignoring the fact that death….happens a lot.
Holy Planet Thanatopsis Duckman. I agree. Death’s not good for business (except maybe the insurance business). So it rarely appears except maybe in Johnny Depp pop-goth flicks. And as the population grows in leaps and bounds, so do…graveyards: one reason I favor…mandatory cremation. Nothin’ like a few million ancient stiffs in catacombs for some bad dreams (as with the ossuaries under Paris, and other european cities).
Horatiox – Even Santa could not escape his underground Parisian doom: