People Suck At Risk Assessment

A guy gets killed by a shark in Hawaii and it makes international news and gets warning signs posted all over. It is treated as a serious, immediate problem.

While personally tragic, it is the first shark attack in Hawaii in the last four years. The United States averages only nineteen attacks per year, and only one fatality every two years.

Almost forty thousand people died from firearm injuries in 2017. While approximately two thirds were suicides (which is bad enough), that means around thirteen thousand people were killed by firearm injuries inflicted by other people. In that same year there were 144 police officers who died in the line of duty and about 1,000 active duty military throughout the world who died, whereas 2,462 school-age children were killed by firearms. The list of mass shootings in 2019 alone is huge.

In 2016 (most recent data from CDC), 40,327 people died in the United States from automobile related causes.

But our response is completely different.

Maybe that’s because shark attacks (or climbing Everest, etc) are something that doesn’t effect most people. It doesn’t require us to do anything except to tsk sadly. But dealing with gun violence, suicide, or traffic fatalities … those might be inconvenient.

Difficult pill to swallow indeed.

Featured Photo by Micaela Parente on Unsplash

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