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February 2010
 
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Tue, Jun. 2nd, 2009 08:50 am
Fear of flying

74CommentReplyFlag

krskrft
krskrft
Wed, Jun. 3rd, 2009 02:34 am (UTC)

My point is that you don't actually have 1 in 9,000,000 "chance" of dying in a plane crash, or whatever the statistic is.

These types of statistics can tell us important things about discrepancies in the number of incidents that occur, between say passenger cars and commercial jets. But they can't tell us the real "chance" of somebody dying in either one, because there are so many non-random factors that play into whether an incident will or will not occur.

1 in 9,000,000, for example, tells gives us a proportional idea of how many plane crashes occur. The statistic, on the other hand, doesn't tell us whether a plane will or will not crash. So the difference is that it can tell us plenty about what has happened already--i.e. the information we have up to the present moment--but should not be incorrectly applied to what will happen in the future.

The problem is that these types of statistics are almost always used, in popular media, to urge us toward some specific understanding of the future, when in actuality, these statistics almost never govern random events, and therefore cannot tell us with any certainty what will or will not occur in a specific situation.


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