I’ve just finished The Lust for Blood, by Jeffrey A. Kottler. He’s a psychologist, and the book is all about why people are attracted to violence. Why do we slow down to look at car accidents? Why do we watch horror films? Why do people (Min) watch UFC pay-per-views where blood gets splattered across a caged arena?
You’ll have to read the book to find the answers to those questions, because that’s not what I want to talk about here. I want to talk about a little section of the book in which Mr. Kottler talks about the way we choose our fears, and the unreasonable nature of this process. For example, we worry about serial killers, when it’s much more likely we’ll be killed in a car accident. Then, he goes on to say we have a one in 200,000 chance of being killed by an asteroid.
Um… excuse me?
I was so concerned by this statistic that I went to notes in the back of the book, found the source, and looked it up. It’s an article about the relative dangers of terrorist attacks, and you can read the entire text here. You’ll find this sentence at the end of the third paragraph:
In 1994, astronomers calculated that the chance was one in 20,000. However, as they’ve gathered more data on the orbits of near earth objects, the lifetime risk has been reduced to one in 200,000 or more.
Seriously? So, if the population of Vancouver is 2.1 million, does that mean 10 of us are going to die by asteroid? There must be some statistical calculation that I’m missing here, right? Right?
Sigh. Come back next week, when I’ll make a valiant attempt to actually talk about… writing.