Monday, December 6, 2010

dangerous living.

dangerous smells, dangerous tastes,
dangerous fuels sold at dangerous rates,
dangerous folk in a dangerous place.
oh dangerous people, the dangers you face.
--terrance long

people love throwing around statistics. it's a sort of societal hobby we have, and though most of us are hesitant to accept many statistics we hear as true without some investigation, we still love hearing them. we love believing them, devaluing them, relying on them, disproving them, pointing to them accusingly, and coming up with them ourselves--sometimes legitimately.

i won't bother posting any as there is a practically infinite number of other blogs that will readily present them if you drop them into a bing search. anyway, some of the most popular statistics to make their way amongst us by way of facebook statuses, blogs, pop magazines, and your insightful friend are ones that compare the danger of a more traditionally frightening event to a less traditionally frightening event and end with the statistics that show that fear of the more frightening event isn't justified. for instance: "i don't know why you're so afraid of riding a roller coaster. did you know that one out of every (very large number) people will die in a roller coaster? one in every (smaller number) people will drown in the bathtub!"

i think we all acknowledge that some of these statistics may be true in principle, but a large majority of them include exaggerated or entirely fabricated numbers. likewise for the actual activities as well. rather than try to examine this issue, let's just take it as face value.

i would guess there are three reasons we seem fascinated with this type of  statistic. one, it makes a possibly boring fact (roller coasters are relatively safe) seem much more exciting by tethering it to apparently exciting or shocking fact (baths are very dangerous). two, these statistics can (if the listener takes it as a truth) be very persuasive. three, and the one which i find intriguing, is that i think we like the idea of making boring activities seem dangerous.

who does the media idolize? amongst others, the media idolizes people who live dangerously. action stars, daring spies, brainy detectives who pack a desert eagle. these people live dangerously and we enjoy, and possibly envy, their exploits as we watch. so, is our making the bland seem dangerous an effort for us to get the odd thrill by thinking crossing the street holds more mortal danger than juggling loaded pistols? perhaps. a very minor and boring idea to take up this much text, but one i felt like writing on.

so. want to live dangerously? take a bath.

1 comment:

  1. I think that it is 30% more likely that you will write another post about a very minor boring idea than be impaled by your unicorn rearview mirror decoartion. You can check it on bing. Some guy did a study. For real.