Inspired by THIS episode of the Are We Alone podcast produced by the SETI Institute I decided to publish a revised version of a piece I wrote last year about the safety of the everyday world.

How safe are we? The world is a dangerous place, we see it on the news everyday. Carjackings, murders, bombings, rape, kidnapping, the media shows us a world we hardly recognise full of menace and unseen risks. Living as I do in a relatively small country of approximately 4 million warm bodies I thought it should be quite straight forward to examine the relative risks in my corner of the treacherous world, using the national stats for mortality from 2003 as a basis I have tried to see if the fears induced by our exposure to the media are justified. Using these statistics as the basis of rough probabilities I found the following interesting results: The average person in New Zealand in 2003 was 60 times more likely to die of heart disease than be a victim of homicide, this went up to 194 times more likely when compared to death by air accident. By this measure the surest way to protect yourself is to put down the chips and pick up the running shoes.

If all that death is getting you down then consider this, people were twice as likely to be burgled than to die at all. They were 28 times more likely to be burgled than sexually assaulted, 82 times more likely to die of Influenza and pneumonia than medical misadventure. Forget going in with appendicitis and coming out with a bionic leg, just get vaccinated you are looking at better odds. There was 44 times more likelihood of death by Diabetes than fire, that piece of chocolate is probably a bigger hazard to your life and limb (gangrene, not pleasant) than a hypothetical arsonist. Fortunately no bombing statistics are available, so I guess technically you are infinitely more likely have anything else happen to you than be blown up.

If you want to talk raw numbers then only 0.7% (28,060) of the population of New Zealand died during that year. If you look at the flipside there was twice that number of births in the same year. I don’t know about you but I feel safer already, but a little afraid of being over run with babies now…


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