Reality Check. This Is How Much More Likely A Person Is to Kill You Than a Shark.

by Owen James Burke


…or just about any other animal. Graphic: Washington Post.

Whenever a shark takes a nip at a swimmer, we’re fed a flurry of more likely but profusely sillier probabilities such as being struck by lightning, or falling from the sky on your next flight. While it’s amusing–and maybe somewhat reassuring–to pontificate on such arbitrarily cultivated figures, perhaps they’re not the right comparisons to make.

“If we want to properly contextualize shark attacks,” writes the Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post, “we need to compare sharks to their peers”.

Ingraham dug up the statistics on animal-related fatalities within the United States between 2001 and 2013, and well, if you’re truly worried about being bitten by a shark, chances are that by any logical register, you should be far more fearsome of what might happen in your own garden.

While sharks, bears and alligators each kill an average of only one person in the United States per year, based on available statistics, nonvenomous arthropods (e.g., ants) are credited with about 9 human deaths each year.

Dogs, cattle, and other mammals (not including bears) all claim an average of over 20 people per year, and bees, wasps and hornets take down nearly 60 homo sapiens annually.

The real killer though? Traffic, or people, if you want to provide credit where due.


carsAbove: one of the worst traffic jams in history, which lasted for 11 days straight in August of 2011 in China. I’ve spent enough time in this kind of traffic to know that I’d confidently rather take my chances with the men in gray. Photo via autoevolution.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tallies an average of 33,000 motor vehicle related deaths each year.

Our conclusion: surf, swim, waterski, dive, and hell, even dress up like a seal and strap dead fish to your waist, but for Christ’s sake, stay off the road, and maybe even out of the backyard!

Read more of Ingraham’s findings at the Washington Post. -OJB

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