Which are deadlier: sharks or horses? (availability heuristic)





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Published on May 25, 2012

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Which do you think is more common: suicide or homicide? By how much? See below for answer.

CogSai is about cognitive science — a combination of psychology, artificial intelligence, philosophy, neuroscience, linguistics, anthropology, sociology, pedagogy, economics, and lots of unique combinations, like behavioral economics and neural theories of language. We'll have a wide variety of videos, including short illustrated explanations, live interviews with researchers, and group discussions.

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Relevant comics:
Zach Weiner http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?...
Tony Piro http://calamitiesofnature.com/archive...

So, which is it? Let's look at the numbers.

Top 15 causes of US deaths, 2007:
25.4% heart disease
23.2% cancer
5.6% stroke
5.3% respiratory
5.1% accidents
3.1% Alzheimer's
2.9% diabetes
2.2% flu & pneumonia
1.9% kidney disease
1.4% septicemia
1.4% suicide
1.2% liver disease
1.0% hypertension
0.8% Parkinson's
0.8% homicide
source: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvs...

Suicide is almost twice as common as homicide, for the whole population.

What about ages 15-24? Top causes:
37.4% accidents
13.1% homicide (41.5% for black males 12-19yo)
9.7% suicide
3.9% cancer
2.6% heart disease
0.5% stroke
see also http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databrie...

Homicide is a much more common cause of death for young adults — especially young black males. :-/

Did you guess right?
Can you think of any other examples of the availability heuristic misguiding your sense of how often things happen?

Answer in the comments below!

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