Thursday, 17 March 2016 06:38

Don’t be so Scared in 2016

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In my lifetime I have seen the mainstream media morph into an almost non-stop fear generating machine. It would appear that weekly there is a new threat to my imminent safety. I work in the health insurance industry and I have a fairly solid understanding of risk to your well-being, and while it is good advice to heed the wise words I heard in a movie recently — “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst” — this month I have collected some facts that prove the world is not as scary as some would want you to think it is.




Scared of overpopulation? You shouldn’t be — the whole world, all 7 billion of us, could fit into the size of Texas with a population density about the same as New York City.




If you live in the US you are more likely to be shot by a toddler with a gun than a terrorist.


Computer Viruses


You are more likely to get a computer virus from visiting a church website than any other by a factor of three. This is thought to be because church sites rely on volunteers for maintenance who often have limited if any online security skills.




There are many examples of people falling from great heights and surviving. Vesna Vulovic fell over 10km to earth after the plane she was travelling in fell apart. Despite hitting the ground at terminal velocity she survived and recovered from her injuries. She holds the world record for greatest fall without a parachute and is still alive today.




According to Freakonomics more people were killed by vending machines last year than by sharks. Falling coconuts also killed more people worldwide than shark attacks.


Serving in the armed forces


At least for US servicemen and women, the civilian statistics are quite alarming with more people being killed inside the US each year than the total of service personnel killed in both the Iraq and Afghan wars since they started in 2001 and 2003.




In the USA, about seven people die each year from spider bites — normally children or the elderly in remote locations. In Australia the infamous funnel-web spider, the most poisonous spider in the world, has killed exactly zero people in the last 30 years.


Dangerous Animals


Every year, deer kill more people than bears, dogs, wolves, sharks, alligators, bees, scorpions and spiders combined. This is because of the nature of a deer’s body and the fact that most interactions happen in car crashes with the deer ending up flying through the windshield into the passengers.




Rats are actually being trained in parts of Africa to detect landmines and will save countless number of limbs this year from their efforts.




Statistically more people die from the sunshine (excessive natural heat) than from dog attacks each year.


Crazy people on the plane


More relevant maybe for us who live in Asia (and fly Vietnam Airlines), the possibility of someone actually opening the door mid-flight is almost zero. The cabin pressure holds the doors shut so tightly that it would be impossible for someone to open the door while the plane is airborne.




No one has ever died by being bitten by a tarantula as the amount of venom they release is not even comparable to a bee sting. They are basically furry, eight-legged cats.


Bee Swarms


When you see a swarm of bees they are normally searching for a new hive and actually at their least aggressive as there are no baby bees or food supplies to protect.




In the 2011 tsunami that hit Japan, a great fear in the aftermath was the spread of malaria. An unlikely hero saved the day when all the spiders swarmed into the trees covering entire forests with their webs. Despite the scene looking incredibly scary the spiders killed off the mosquitos that were expected to multiply and spread the malaria.




Each year about 40 people are killed by lightning worldwide, compared with over 100 who die from choking on the lids of their pens.


Vampire Bats


The majority of bats don’t feed on blood, but on nectar from fruits and insects. They are actually one of the best forms of pest control and are more like bees and butterflies of the night than something that will do you harm.


Airplane Crashes


Even in the Asiana 214 flight that crashed in 2013, 304 of the 307 survived the impact. In the highly unlikely event of a plane crash over 90% of the passengers involved normally survive. In the Air France 358 crash all the 309 people on board survived.


Shane is now fearful of coconuts and vending machines. He can be contacted hiding under his desk at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Shane Dillon

Shane has written the Word business column since 2009. He left his home town of Brisbane, Australia in 2004 and has worked in several Asian countries as well as Guatemala and Ukraine. He is interested in economics and the subtleties of doing business in Asia. Shane works in the insurance industry and can be contacted at

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