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Shark Wack

August 16, 2012

BoingBoing is truly a directory of wonderful things. This time around, they’ve honed in on one of my pet peeves about the misperception of relative magnitudes (along the same lines as opportunity costs, etc.). Specifically, with all this hullabaloo about Shark Week (something I’ve never gotten into), the editors at BoingBoing have wonderfully pointed out that cows are more dangerous than sharks.

Between 2003 and 2008, 108 people died from cattle-induced injuries across the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s 27 times the whopping four people killed in shark attacks in the United States during the same time period, according to the International Shark Attack File. Nearly all those cow-related fatalities were caused by blunt force trauma to the head or chest; a third of the victims were working in enclosed spaces with cattle.

In case that has you worried, here’s a cow-attack survival guide.

Sure, you can argue that sharks are interesting for reasons other than their potential for human predation, but in 2011, there were 75 shark attacks reported worldwide (only 23 in the United States), and only 12 of them were fatal. For context, here are some other things more likely than getting attacked by a shark:

Dying from a lightning strike: 1 in 83,000

Dating a supermodel: 1 in 88,000

Dying by ignition or melting of nightwear: 1 in 397,000

Drawing a royal flush in five cards: 1 in 649,740

And in terms of fatalities, you’re also more likely to be killed by dog bites or even alligator attacks than by sharks.

Personally, I’m a bigger fan of Shaq week.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 16, 2012 2:25 pm

    ah, but the actual point of shark week is not to generate fear (which does increase ratings), but to sneakily put in a conservation agenda. cows don’t need saving so that’s why they don’t have a week.

    plus, you should stop sipping that haterade 😛

  2. Anonymous permalink
    August 16, 2012 6:27 pm

    apparently there is a cow week: http://io9.com/5935483/cow-week-is-even-deadlier-awesomer-than-shark-week

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