Saturday, September 29, 2012

We're Numer Two!

So I was goofing off on-line today -- can't blame me, since it snowed last night, and there's no way I'm taking the Strom out with six inches of snow in my driveway, grrr... -- when I found this XKCD post. I love XKCD, but this one in particular got me thinking. How dangerous ARE the things that we do? To find out, I emulated XKCD's search, including things often considered to be "risky" (like motorcycling) and things considered to be "safe" (like knitting and blogging, lol) and compiled the results in a table, which I'll post below.

Okay, there are problems with using Google search results for "died in a _____ accident" to determine the relative dangers of various activities. First, some things are more sensational than others, so there will probably be more interest -- and therefore, more Google hits -- even if the less sensational items are more common. Second, the search has to be in quotes, but that means similar queries may have vastly different results. For example, "died in a motorcycle accident" returns many more hits than "died in a motorcycling accident" even though both queries are essentially the same a human (who can understand the context of both queries).

However, this isn't really intended to be any kind of valid, scientific research. Rather it is a somewhat interesting (to me, anyway) rough estimate of the risks that people take on a daily basis. Here is what I found:

ActivitySearch Hits
Ice Skating13,600
Water Drinking0
Web Surfing0

Based upon these results, motorcycling is only half as dangerous as driving a car, but is four times as dangerous as skydiving! I think exposure might have something to do with these results, however :) I was also more than a little surprised to find such a high number of hits for knitting (3910!). Why, that's almost as dangerous as camping, and over half as dangerous as gardening! :P

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