Thursday, 24 July 2014

It might happen, but it might not...risk.

I'm taking some flights later this year. An air crash tends to make one question the wisdom of flying, however fleetingly.  I missed a fatal rail crash by a day, which made me momentarily consider avoiding rail journeys. I recall thinking of avoiding London when the IRA bombs were going off and I lived in the south.

The funny thing is that I've never thought twice about walking down the street, riding my bicycle, driving a car, being a car passenger (well, perhaps sometimes!),going up and down stairs or walking around my sloping garden in ill fitting shoes. Though, statistically, I'm far more likely to have an accident, doing those activities than flying. There's something about the thought of mass destruction, that seems to make it worse.

If the Government really wanted to help prevents bad accidents, leading to chronic health problems and death, it is the over 70s walking along the pavements who should be wearing crash helmets. My own mother would have benefited. 

'Lies, damned lies and statistics'. A quote from a contested source. Mid 1800s.

I've always questioned the publication of statistics. Who's doing it? Who has paid for the research? Do they benefit financially in some way? 

The delivery of stastics needs questioning too, as generally the media rule by fear. A powerful emotion. The Daily Mail 'fearmongering', is well known. I recall a Science Journalist being interviewed some years ago by Simon Mayo on BBC Radio 5. He admitted that scientific stories can make for dull reading, so emotional language has to be used, to make people take notice. For instance, a story can be about 1 in 5 or 3 in 10 people who do or have something.  I always look at the 4 in 5 or 7 in 10 who don't do it or haven't got it. But genrally, that doesn't make for such a good story.

The other problem with stories containing statistics is that the figures do not represent the context or fuller picture. eg: car drivers go faster, more often, and further than cyclists. In health stories, there are rarely mentions of the general lifestyle of the people mentioned, which will influence results.

Out of interest I googled air crash statistics. I found two excellent sites and thought I'd share them. They make interesting reading, but  the useful information lies behind the figures.

The first one is about actual numbers and based on UK figures.

The second one is about odds and from the US.

"The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. They may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live."
Leo F Buscaglia

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comments.