My Scouts are young, and love to climb things. I tell them, I know you're strong and skilled. But a loose rock or slippery foothold puts you at risk anyway. So wear the harness - now it takes two mistakes to kill you (e.g. loose rock + badly rigged harness). The risk goes down drastically.
So put some non-skid floor mat in your shower, or a chair as advised in this thread. The mis-step no longer carries the same risk.
I have to say that this above post, in about 10 seconds of reading it, has completely changed my views on assessing risk.
The idea of quantifying risk by counting the number of mistakes you are away from catastrophic failure is an excellent way to visualize risk. It's a simple way to calculate risk, and an even easier way to teach my kids. Thank you.
It was on that same house party that we had a curious conversation about driving a car. It started because she passed so close to some workmen that our fender flicked a button on one man's coat.
"You're a rotten driver," I protested. "Either you ought to be more careful or you oughtn't to drive at all."
"I am careful."
"No, you're not."
"Well, other people are," she said lightly.
"What's that got to do with it?"
"They'll keep out of my way," she insisted. "It takes two to make an
"Suppose you met somebody just as careless as yourself."
"I hope I never will," she answered. "I hate careless people. That's why I like you."
I am one street crossing away from death. You are one car ride with a seat belt away from death.
You really need to have some rough probabilities attached to things for this to be reasonable.
So everyones risk goes down slightly too.
Realistically, there are still several single points of failure in the system:
1) The space between the belayer's ears
2) the rope if it has become damaged since it was flaked and inspected or gets cut while catching a fall. Yes, that happened, though not to me .
3) The protection on the wall, due to improper use. although depending on how high you are, the next piece down might still keep you off the deck.
4) The harness itself, although barring invisible damage this should be caught by the belayer/climber him/herself and the cross check.
5) The protection on the wall due to gear failure.
The above are listed in what I would consider descending probability, although 2 and 3 are pretty close, with 3 probably jumping 2 in trad climbing. I would rate the probability of 5 being negligible barring manufacturing defects, the prevention and possibly detection of which is probably outside the expertise of virtually all climbers.
Moral of the story: safety is complicated. (edited to add) I'd believe that trying to get people to apply a simple model of "how many mistakes" is better than none, but I wonder to what extent it reduces safety by making people complacent about having done a risk analysis when the system is too complicated to be analyzed that way.
Now I just wish that some of the people I see climbing outside (and inside!) would think as much as you're asking the 10-year-olds to. If they did that much they'd be much safer, nevermind a fuller analysis of the system.
I should also note that I am in no way professionally qualified to talk about safety in climbing, or risk analysis in general. I just like to climb, and prefer to do so safely.
(Part of the problem in this case was not understanding how the mechanism worked, which is not a good idea when it's the mechanism that stops you from falling 30 feet onto the ground.)
Gear failures of all kinds are extremely rare.
Edit: objective hazard is significant, too: rockfall, afternoon thunderstorms, etc.
1. Belaying off the end of your rope (Always tie a safety knot!)
2. Not wearing a helmet.
So, yes: climber error.
While climbing at the Gunks in NY about 8 years ago on a spring day, we heard this massive thunder a few hundred yards away. A small volkswagon sized boulder had broken free from the wall and fell smashing trees below. My friends were about 3 routes away from it when it fell.
There's good and bad news on the figure 8 itself. The good news is that they're visually easy to check -- any screw up will make the knot look very different. The bad news is that they invert at relatively low loads. That's mitigated with a long tail.
However, I've never seen any evidence that those single fisherman's people tie in the tail actually do anything. The key is making sure the tail is long enough that the knot is still tied if it inverts.
That's crazy about the rockfall -- lucky you guys weren't standing underneath!
I oversimplified my knots explanation so i wouldn't bore anyone. Isn't the fisherman's knot supposed to jam up the knot if you missed a loop of the figure 8?
There are also errors in judgment, but the gear is the center of this story.
The final paragraphs are still hard for me to read, six years on.
edit: adding National Park Service summaries
NPS Morning Report for October 26, 2006
Yosemite National Park (CA)
Noted Climber Falls To His Death
Todd Skinner, 47, of Lander, Wyoming, was climbing a route on the Leaning Tower when he fell approximately 500 feet to his death. Skinner's climbing partner reported the fall at around 4 p.m.
Skinner was pronounced dead at the scene. He is survived by his wife and three children. The exact cause of death is under investigation.
[Submitted by Adrienne Freeman, Public Affairs]
NPS Morning Report for October 30, 2006
Yosemite National Park (CA)
Follow-up On Fatal Climbing Fall
Jim Hewitt reported that he and his partner, well-known climber Todd Skinner, had been working on a first free ascent of the "Jesus Built My Hotrod" route on the overhanging west face of the Leaning Tower. Skinner's fall occurred when he was rappelling.
Hewitt told investigators that he had been above Skinner when he fell. As he was rappelling on the low-stretch ropes that they had fixed on the route, Hewitt came to Skinner's Grigri descent device on the rope at the point where he had fallen.
The Grigri had a still-locked carabiner attached which had been connected to Skinner's harness. When Skinner's body was recovered, the belay loop on his harness was missing.
The next day, rangers recovered a broken harness belay loop in vegetation at the base of the wall. It was very worn at the spot where the break had occurred.
Hewitt later told investigators that Skinner was aware that the belay loop on his harness was in a weakened condition prior to the climb, and that they had talked about its poor condition three days earlier. ... .
[Submitted by Keith Lober, Emergency Services Coordinator]
I think it's the exception that proves the rule though. Word when it happened was he'd been cleaning loose rock on rap, and was not only wearing a blown-out harness (with a replacement on order at the time) but also apparently had a haul bag full of rocks clipped off to himself.
So -- if you are one of the world's most prolific climbers, use gear you have already decided to retire, and have an unusually high working load, you can maybe get your gear to fail. But it's still incredibly rare.
He was a widely known and well-regarded big wall guy who had freed gigantic routes in Pakistan, Greenland and the Yukon. I read his trip reports with awe. I would have felt out of place carrying his rack from the truck to a picnic table, much less talking climbing with him.
I had not heard that he was tidying up. He was also reputed to be very generous with his time and expertise. I find the idea of him carefully cleaning up a new route (while passing an increasing load through a frayed harness) almost intolerably painful to think about.
Put yourself in a position where you think you are unlikely to get hurt by a single mistake, and then insert an additional layer. So really it should be three :)
For the climbing: The loose rock can occur while you are distracted. But you can tie up the harness at your leisure and with friends checking.
From a software development perspective, that's also why automated testing is better than manual testing. You can write the automated tests when you have time, and they will work even when you are under stress.
Thinking it was a heart attack, I went to the ER and was told I was fine, and it was probably just a pinched nerve from the fall. Three years later, the pain hasn't stopped -- the chest pain isn't so bad these days usually, but my left arm is almost continually numb and, well, the body doesn't really get used to the pins-and-needles feeling. If I had taken it more seriously, had a CT scan taken at the time, etc, it may have been caught early. Unfortunately, now that so much time has passed, doctors are at a loss as for what's going on.
I'm still finding new doctors and doing my own research into what's going on, but this process has been excruciating. So, please, if you have a fall: go to the doctor, and have them do a real examination immediately. When I went, they focused on my heart and didn't even so much as look at my neck or my shoulder; had I gone after the fall, they may have figured out what it was, and I wouldn't be in pain years later.
Hope this cautionary tale helps someone!
I had pain for years, until I stumbled onto a combination of things that completely resolve the issues as long as I stick to them.
I'm telling you in case they help. If nothing else it shouldn't hurt anything.
In order of importance:
1. Develop & maintain significant muscle mass, specifically in my upper & lower back. I'm not a huge musclehead by any stretch, but I can do 20+ pull-ups (not chin-ups) in a row and deadlift over 350 lbs. This had the biggest impact, and if I stop working out, the pain/symptoms come back. It literally took me years to get here, but is completely worth it to live pain/numb free. Health/aesthetics benefits are nice too.
2. Active Release Therapy - this broke up scar tissue that I had, may not be applicable to you.
3. Fish Oil Supplements - acts as a natural anti-inflammatory
4. Vitamin D/sunshine - Not sure if it's just because the sun & vitamin D makes me feel better overall, but I feel like it makes a small difference.
Edited to clean up paragraphs
What has really helped me is doing handstand-pushups. You do a handstand against a wall, and then do a push up, lowering your head towards the floor. It really engages all the muscles in the shoulders/back. You'll probably start off by just doing a handstand and then go from there slowly. Once you are a bit more confident you can also arch your back away from the wall engaging muscles lower in your back.
Just like with any exercise, don't push yourself too much and make sure to keep proper form.
If this is comparable to the Graston technique, I think it works well, but it is far from comfortable. I had this after surgery for my Achilles rupture and it felt someone was carving my achilles out with a dull butter knife.
the average man should be light and active enough to do a few chin ups with ease and run for a while
i have deadlifted over 350. it did nothing for my chronic neck pain and in fact only made it worse by over developing my traps.
neckbeard lifting gurus are so full of shit
| This worked for me, I'm going to tell you
| because it might help you too.
| what a load of balls...
| neckbeard lifting gurus are so full of shit
The most treacherous thing about this is that lifting weights (with a good warmup) often makes pain go away in a temporary fashion (while you're doing it), only to return big-time when your joints aren't all nicely lubed up.
Immediately examined by a doctor and a number of x-ray shots done, one of my left arm bone was slightly fractured which I was told will heal jsut fine, but cartilage had suffered permanent damage, that will only get worse with time. I had the habit to do regular Aikibudo wrist exercising (it helps prevent RSI), and this helps a lot in maintaining a status quo by strengthening ligaments and muscles, thus protecting the joint itself.
While I'm usually not in pain, I happen to be at seemingly random times, and I know what is the cause and that it will only get worse with time (it already does and I'm only 0x20)
Seriously though, you should never fall straight on your arms. They're just there as a quick cushion before you do a roll over your shoulders. Learned that viable lesson spending my teenage years racing bikes down hills in the forest.
Has saved me multiple times, once in a head-on collision with a motorcycle. (I was on a mountain bike)
I have never had a broken bone in my life.
I'm not saying that they will work. But acupuncture and yoga are not the same as pixie dust, dung pills or what have you.
To give an example of what I mean: the waters of the Ganges were said to have "magical powers that cured disease". It was later found that the waters contained bacteriophages that killed bacteria. Could anyone have guessed this?
Okay, so why don't they show any efficacy above pixie dust in double-blinded studies?
It's all deeply frustrating. I tried acupuncture a few years ago (at a doctor's recommendation) and did a lot of reading. It didn't work for me, unsurprisingly - about the only thing it's been shown to have any effect for is some types of lower back pain, and my pain was (is) mostly in my hands.
Therefore single-blind studies of acupuncture are trivial; just find people who don't know where the needles are supposed to go. A double-blind study could be possible, if you trained two sets of people to perform the procedure (one incorrectly).
It doesn't seem completely impossible. You could have someone put the same needles in randomly, instead of in whatever location acupuncture claims they should be put in.
This study introduces them and shows that acupuncturists can't well distinguish both types: https://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6882/7/31
This study uses them to check for differences in pain-relief (there are no differences): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2765771/
Chiropractor: "Great! Now let's just get you scheduled for three appointments a week for the rest of your life."
While there is a part of chiropractic that is, imo, alchemy,
don't disregard the rest.
The chiropractor I went to was in a fairly wealthy neighborhood, had a nice office, and seemed "respectable." However, once he actually started, it very quickly became clear he hadn't the faintest clue what he was doing, didn't care much, and was just going through some very simplistic motions. He not only failed to have any effect on my problem, but he was singularly ineffective in even trying to track down the issue. It was a very different experience from a normal doctor: almost every real doctor, even when completely confused and out of his depth, at least has clear techniques for probing and trying to figure out what's up or at least figure out the next step to take or who to ask—and they will very freely refer you to someone else if that's called for. This chiropractor: nothing. Zero. Nada.
After 30 minutes of painfully obvious hand waving, he then said "ok, well I guess you'd better schedule another appointment." I then went out into his waiting room, and heard another patient chatting with the secretary, and it became clear this patient was a "regular."
It seemed fairly obvious that the whole scam was to get patients on the appointment treadmill, offering promises, but no relief, continually dangling in front of them the hope that "next time" things would get better...
Maybe not every chiropractor is this way, but my experience perfectly matched their generally poor reputation, so I suspect it's more common than not.
[I didn't schedule another appointment... :]
Depends what happens next.
See debacle of Long Term Capital Management. Options trader take profit/loss as soon as a humble target is hit. It's as in life, the biggest loss is the complete loss of your physical capital which takes you out permanently of the game. Gamblers focus on the potential profits and get high on how their luck evaded fate in one nick of time, traders focus on preservation of capital.
But it looked like there were some more nickels out in the middle of an 8-lane freeway...
To which Merriweather replied "if we’re going to play for those kind of numbers, I’d rather play for real money. Ten million dollars. No tears."
Gutfreund declined. In fact, he smiled his own brand of forced smile and said, “You’re crazy.”
No, thought Meriwether, just very, very good."
Looking at the 2011 prelims "Accidents (unintentional injuries)" comes in at #5 with 122,777 deaths and Intentional self-harm (suicide) is at #10 with 38,285. Assault (homicide) is no longer in the top 15.
Also, Assault (homicide) by discharge of firearms is 11,101 with all other Assault (homicide) totaling 4,852. To give some context to the Assault (homicide) numbers, "Accidental poisoning and exposure to noxious substances" totals 33,554 deaths or about 3x the Assault (homicide) firearm number or 2x the total.
Looking at the stats and what kills us, we spend a lot of time looking at the stuff that is actually going down versus the stuff that is increasing.
Accidental poisoning, for example, is often due to exposure to cleaning chemicals and drugs which have massively reduced illnesses and deaths. Spending more to make them less accessible may actually be self-defeating, in that it could well cause more deaths than it prevents, by making it harder to get and use those things for their intended purpose.
Further, many of the more prominent killers in society have already been the subject of safety campaigns. Cars are massively safer today than they were in the 70s and earlier, as a direct result of safety research and societal effort. As returns on such efforts have been diminishing for some time, the next dollar of safety research or societal effort is quite likely to impact more net lives when directed at a "lesser" killer that hasn't been the subject of as much study.
One must keep those two considerations in mind, when making judgements about whether we're spending an undue amount of time and money on a given threat.
Simply looking at a stack-rank of 'killers' isn't enough.
Looking at the auto stats http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in... I am not sure I would say massive.
But today, we are surrounded by "incident news" without looking at the trend lines. "Incident news" does not look at daily problems as its just noise and not headline friendly. It doesn't have a story narrative.
Risk vs reward is always going to matter. We watch TV and see "gun control" as the story. The long term trend lines for guns are more now than ever, more concealed carry, and less deaths.
Again, the stack rank isn't a bad place to start if you have no other context. But we do. We're well past that point. We all know the NTSB, Auto Companies, Insurance Companies, et al have been hammering on car safety for decades now, have been advancing auto safety about as fast as society will allow and are always conducting newer/better research.
So it remains ill-advised to use that rate (or similar well-studied risks) as some sort of reference point when considering whether a smaller risk is getting outsize attention.
> "The long term trend lines for guns are more now than ever, more concealed carry, and less deaths."
In the 70s, when it became an issue (due in large part to media crusading and 'incident news'), the long-term trends for auto fatalities were also on a downward slope from the highs of the 40s and 50s. Yet, as it turns out, we could still actually do better by allowing research into the issue and taking common-sense precautions.
Similarly with the long term trends around smoking rates, when we finally deigned to allow smoking/cancer/cessation research.
Similarly was Airplane travel, even with a bump from terrorism, the safest way to get from A to B. Yet it remains a good thing that we studied the terrorism 'problem', despite its low risk, and changed air crew procedure and hardened cockpit doors.
And the TSA stuff is nonsense, but it was and remains nonsense precisely because it's not being studied and considered in a sober cost/benefit analysis.
What remains notable about the gun debate in the US, is that we're not arguing about "what to do" so much as arguing about whether to study the problem.
Look at how the trial balloon for the "whether we should study the problem" effort only has some sliver of a chance to succeed, because it's being first aimed at a scapegoat (violent video games). It's not even a direct study of the self-evident real problem (gang violence) or its equally-obvious underlying cause (the war on some people's use of some drugs).
> What remains notable about the gun debate in the US, is that we're not arguing about "what to do" so much as arguing about whether to study the problem.
You must be watching some other debate, I consider new legislation being introduced "what to do".
Well, absent digging into details that neither of us have, that's going to come down to a philosophical position: do you think that trends will continue indefinitely in the absence of any additional efforts to sustain them?
> "You must be watching some other debate, I consider new legislation being introduced "what to do"."
I'm watching the debate where practical political reality says every legislative proposal, other than "study the problem", is trivially DOA due the lobbying power of the NRA and Congress' makeup and existing obstructionist strategy.
> Well, absent digging into details that neither of us have, that's going to come down to a philosophical position: do you think that trends will continue indefinitely in the absence of any additional efforts to sustain them?
I would expect continued downward trend, but it cannot go down indefinitely (limit on flukes). I expect a upswing in the first couple of years of automated vehicles just because new realities tend to make for bad times (see the 1930's) then another sharp downward trend.
> I'm watching the debate where practical political reality says every legislative proposal, other than "study the problem", is trivially DOA due the lobbying power of the NRA and Congress' makeup and existing obstructionist strategy.
Just as I hope the EFF and ACLU will be obstructionist in defending some of the other amendments. The NRA is not powerful by itself. It is powerful because of the number of members. I dearly wish we had an NRA for the 5th amendment, but it seems we are getting beat there very badly. I would say the Senate has been more obstructionist due to their failure at passing a budget. They should remember which house is supposed to be preeminent in that regard.
In other words, the person you are most likely to kill with a gun is yourself.
"The preponderance of current evidence indicates that gun availability is a risk factor for youth suicide in the United States. The evidence that gun availability increases the suicide rates of adults is credible, but is currently less compelling."
1) Their gun in self defense studies http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/hicrc/firearms-research/gun-thre... have stats that do not match the US Dept of Justice
2) I would love to get ahold of the full study for #13 "The public does not understand the importance of method availability." because it would explain their base beliefs on a lot of the rest of the page.
Consider a family with a youth who accidentally shot themselves. Rather than state that it was an accident, the family tells authorities that it was a "suicide".
Consider a family with an adult that chooses to commit suicide. Rather than state that it was a suicide, the family tells the authorities that it was an "accident".
Is there a good reason to believe that one of these effects is stronger than the other?
That's a great statistical question! If the data skew was proportionally equal in both directions, the two skews would cancel each other out, right?
Unfortunately, we don't know if the data skews towards accidents, or skews towards suicides, or skews towards them both equally. Here is the snarky one-liner answer to your question:
>>>Is there a good reason to believe that one of these effects is not stronger than the other?
We need to be careful: maybe things that are going down are going down because of how much time we have spent looking at them.
On guns, we have more than we had before, so the liberalization (old school meaning) of gun laws has not increased any gun related violence. On the other hand, we spend a lot on educating the public on proper eating. I get the feeling our approach isn't correct given the changes, but I would have to look up some study data.
I guess the goal is to reduce the deaths we can do something about.
Additionally, Diamond is pretty ambivalent about the "winners". Diamond wrote an essay on the subject of agriculture called "The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race". He closes the essay with "As our second midnight approaches, will the plight of famine-stricken peasants gradually spread to engulf us all? Or will we somehow achieve those seductive blessings that we imagine behind agriculture's glittering facade, and that have so far eluded us?"
It is not a screed extolling the virtues of European civilization, nor a litany of the failings of other people. Sorry if that's how you understood my brief.
Gotta love HN-contrarianism. Oh have you also heard of Jared Diamond and would now like that knowledge recognized by pedantically contradicting me?
EDIT: actually let me update this. It is about sociocultural evolution. However if I had said "he wrote a book about sociocultural evolution," nobody would have understood the primary emphasis of his work. That book is specifically and primarily about identifying the key developments in Europe which allowed that civilization to rise in power. He has spent many years living among primitive societies around the world to explore his hypotheses. As much as possible, concepts like "primitive" and "advanced" are objective qualifiers and not value judgments.
When I say it that way, people understand what it's about and want to read the book.
Exactly. All pedants do is push people to hedge, equivocate, and employ dense jargon to throw them off the scent, and where's the help to the rest of us in that?
(Niall Ferguson is pretty outspoken politically too, e.g. http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/08/a-full-f...
Although after learning of his political views(I don't live in the US), I couldn't help but wonder how much it influenced his views in Civilisation. It comes off as a bit overly biased in favour of Europeans (read: the white man) when seen in this new light. For example, he tries to argue that church attendance being down is a sign that European influence/culture is declining.
But at the end of the day, it is a study of how some parts of the world - particularly Europe - came to technologically, and subsequently politically/economically dominate everyone else. I don't think this is an unfair thing to say, and it implies no Euro- or Amero-centrism.
Jared Diamond is a very sensitive and empathetic man, and that really comes through if you watch the TV series by the same name. His work is not at all promoting Euro-centric supremacy as a race or culture, merely explaining a set of historical circumstances.
And I think it should be mentioned that Guns, Germs and Steel is rather extreme in suggesting an 'geological determinism.'  While his arguments are generally quite good, there is simply quite a bit more happening. A nice book to balance this is Ian Morris, Why the West Rules--For Now.
 Jarred Diamond actually warns of this determinism fallacy, but the book certainly left me with the impression that such a determinism exists.
 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1475-4959.2008.... (paywall)
One way to phrase the distinction is that no one really expects huge empires in Antarctica, so everyone admits there's some role to the environment. GGS talks about more complicated effects that the environment has, without saying anything about the outcome being deterministic. It argues that the odds were somewhat higher of Europe invading North America than vice-versa, and doesn't even try to quantify by how much.
According to the book, the reason China has a large stable empire was because of China's geography, which was mostly flat and well-connected by the Yangtze and the Yellow river. With few geographical segments, this led to the people being less likely to form 'tribes' and more likely to be united culturally.
This is in contrast to Europe, which has a large impassible mountain range in the middle, and lots of peninsulas and small rivers, forming natural boundaries. This led to Europe being more diverse culturally.
But I like the OP's more practical point: personal attention to normal activities that are actually risky, based on a realistic view of those risks.
1) Zero succesful airline attacks
2) Zero convictions for attempted terrorism of anyone detained by the TSA
3) Zero civilians killed in any form of (islamic extremist) terrorist attack on US soil in the last decade or so (all the way back to 9/12 if you don't count the borderline case of John Malvo).
The point being that not only is the TSA not stopping attacks on airplanes, it is also not doing such a good job that it would redirect those attacks to other targets.
And I do not think that we should completely ignore the fears of irrational people. If our citizens are unhappy because they fear something, it is worth some expense to set them at ease. Though perhaps a careful placebo would be most fitting
The goal has never been to save more lives - which is the root cause of the TSA's problem.
...which is exactly what the TSA is.
Balance and strength are highly dependent on exercise. Even fairly old people can maintain very good balance and strength if they don't let their muscles deteriorate through inactivity.
Being frail in old age is not inevitable. A sedentary person after age 50 loses something like 5% of muscle mass annually. But that same person can boost their muscle mass 20% in a single year if they just get serious about strength training, and then slow the deterioration to 1 or 2% thereafter. Run the numbers, it makes a dramatic difference in outcomes.
Cause of death (based on ICD-10, 2004) Falls (W00-W19)
All ages 26,009
Under 1 year 10
1-4 years 24
5-14 years 28
15-24 years 211
25-34 years 299
35-44 years 493
45-54 years 1,283
55-64 years 2,011
65-74 years 2,988
75-84 years 7,249
85 years and over 11,412
Not stated 1
Think of it like this: if someone paid you $100 to take 2 steps balancing on a rail, you're certain to be able to do it. How about going 100 times as far for $10,000 over a 1000 foot drop? As they say: Quantity has a quality all its own.
You have conflated the two uses of the word "they" in the gpp. And you are maddeningly close to having your pedantry card revoked pending discovery that you are in fact a native english speaker: so consider yourself on notice, [as they say](they refers to Steven Coldbear). Let's begin.
>>>As they say: Quantity has a quality all its own.
The word "they" occurred twice in the gpp. The first time was in reference to "The guys at NASA who came to TX/RX". The second occurrence of the word "they" occurred in the phrase "As they say" which is an idiom, or a turn of phrase [as they say](they refers to "people who use idioms"). Therefore it clearly was not referring to the only other use of the word "they".
A native english speaker would know this...but maybe you aren't a native english speaker! Watch your posts friend, maybe spice them up with some "ethnic" flair. Also, do not get into a land war in Asia, [as they say](they refers to the writers of The Princess Bride, as they wish).
>"I first became aware of the New Guineans’ attitude toward risk on a trip into a forest..."
>"I now think of New Guineans’ hypervigilant attitude..."
>"Traditional New Guineans have to think clearly about dangers....In contrast, Americans’ thinking about dangers is confused."
The truth is it's a common, learned attitude of anyone who spends a lot of time sporting in the outdoors - no matter where you live. The author himself points out the American/European pilot and raft guide, for example.
For example, before I worked in the Peruvian rain forest I would not have guessed that being hit by a brazil nut was one of the commonest reasons for accidental fatalities in the forest.
But you're right, he's a native fetishist.
If you roll a dice six times, you have no guarantee to get a six. Each time you roll the dice, you have 1/6th chance of getting a six and this doesn't change no matter how many times you roll.
If you roll a dice six times, you have around 66,51% (1-(5/6)^6) chance of getting six at least once.
For the same reason, if you have 1/1000th chance of dying under the shower, and you take 5,000 showers, you won't die 5 times...
You will have 1-(999/1000)^5000 chance of dying, that 99,32%. That's not 1. So you won't die 5 times.
If you replaced "deaths" in your post with "coin flips", this becomes obvious. I'll repeat your post with some different numbers so you can see how absurd your argument is.
If you have a 1/2 chance of flipping heads and you flip 10 coins, you won't get 5 heads.
You will have 1-(1/2)^10 of flipping heads, that [sic] 99.902%. That's not 1. So you won't get 5 heads.
Now, obviously a real person can't die more than once, but if you think he was mistaken about that then his supposed error has more to do with biology than statistics. Any reasonable reader would understand that it was just his rhetorical way of describing a large number of independent statistical events. If it helps, think of it as a population of 5000 equally-careless people taking 1 shower each, not a single person taking 5000.
I don't think I mixed up expected value and probability of occurrence, if I did please point out where.
You don't care too much about expected value because once the event occurs (death), you can't play anymore...
If you were playing money, on the other hand, expected value would be much more interesting.
I think probability is interesting because if you say "I'll take the shower 2,500 times instead of 5,000" you drop the probability of death to 91.8 % (from 99.9%)...
If you say I'll die on average only 2.5 times you say nothing interesting.
The only thing he could be said to "wrong" about is the idea that a person can die more than once, but everybody understands that that's not actually true. It certainly doesn't "ruin the article" like this poor fellow seems to think.
It's interesting that Diamond literally describes the survival function, which is usually thought of as E[X|x>=a], but then conflates this with the expected value in the next breath.
I'm confident he understands the difference, but the notion of the survival function is so easy to understand without the underlying statistics (as he explains in two sentences), and provides a much more useful way of conceptualizing statistics. (Expected values of binomial distributions, on the other hand, are highly useful mathematically but difficult to conceptualize without the underlying statistics).
Physical deterioration is often a self-fulfilling prophecy,
But then good health and daily activity are the best ways of preventing falls, (along with balance training and physiotherapy, especially after a surgery or stroke) so yes it is a cycle as you say.
I don't agree with it being primarily a cultural thing though. Daily exercise is an individual choice. There's a guy in my new building who I see all the time, he just walks to the end of the hall and back many times each day. Each lap probably takes him 10 minutes. But he chooses to stay active, even in very old age.
the life expectancy at birth for China in 2011 was 73.47 years (CIA World Factbook (2011 estimates)) compared with 78.37 for the U.S and 80.05 for the UK.
So one reason that all those old Chinese people may appear so mobile is that they aren't quite as old as you might expect.
The game is quite long and if you die you have to start over from the beginning. You can also be killed in one turn if you are unlucky and not careful. The only way to win is to lower the risk to die at each turn sufficiently that you can play through the 100 000 turns or so that it takes to win.
Playing it has really given me perspective on risks in a similar way to the author of the article. In real life you end up doing some things a lot of times and then the risk has to be damn low.
Does he sweat regularly? Play sports? If not, in the winter, shower twice per week. Doing otherwise is really falling into one of the weirdest forms of American prissiness.
In general I shower when my wife tells me I need to. On average that means every 2-3 days. How strange and wasteful would it be if someone washed their car every single morning regardless of whether it was dirty or had even been moved from the garage that day! (I work from home so the analogy frequently works)
I know he's making a broader point about risk but if you want to get over some crazy warped American perceptions to improve your life and the world, obsessive showering is as good a one as getting over delusions of risk of terrorist attacks.
Yeah, if by "massively" you mean he'll only be expected to have a possibly-fatal fall twice instead of five times.
Your post is extremely ignorant. It not only offensively and incorrectly ascribes daily showering to "prissiness" and "obsessiveness" (as if that's the reason I shower every day, instead of, you know, wanting to smell nice, look nice, and feel refreshed), it also claims that this is an American phenomenon (I'm Canadian, and many/most people I know shower daily. The ones I know who don't, smell). It also assumes all people are the same. Personally, I'd feel pretty sorry for your wife if you smell like I do after not showering that morning.
It's no more "bizarre" than the Japanese are bizarre for using those funky toilets with built-in bidets. Cultures may be different. Let them be different without judging, and without projecting.
I'm not here to judge you or your lifestyle, but if I were to rely on my significant other to tell me when I needed to shower, I would feel as though I was taking advantage of their good will. I want to take care of myself and be attractive for them, not use them as a smell-o-metre.
(But good piece nonetheless, Jared Diamond is brilliant.)
Or, take fewer showers. You don't need to shower every day in winter, do you?
Would that be showers taken with reduced water pressure? Or do you perhaps mean fewer showers?
Some might say that my going on about "less/fewer" and other similar grammatical arcana is unfair or irrelevant. There is some merit to that argument, but we're comfortable tearing people's computer code apart, and this is a similar activity -- except in an emotional sense. Most people who eagerly welcome computer code corrections bristle at grammatical corrections.
So thanks for taking my comment in good humor.
And if you're in London, consider adding yourself to the waiting list: http://www.thersa.org/events/our-events/the-world-until-yest...
That said there is a clear benefit and need to take a shower for many people as opposed to sleeping under a tree or crossing the street in the middle for which there is a work around.
While large aircraft are extremely safe, small ones have a significant chance of catastrophic crashes, particularly in inclement weather. While I'll fly in small aircraft, I will never make a habit of it - eventually the number will catch up with you.
Same goes for motorcycles. How many motorcyclists have driven for 30 years without a serious accident? None I know.
> "We show that the most common causes of falls are incorrect weight shifting and tripping, and the most common activities leading to falls are forward walking, standing quietly and sitting down,"
I've got one:
* Lifting heavy things correctly.
I'm not sure what the takeaway from this article is supposed to be. Always be conscious of your safety but not to the point of constant paranoia?
Isn't that basically -- dare I say it -- common sense?
I think the author has actually made a very sound point, statistically speaking, that often incremental improvements in dealing with the little things has as much impact on health outcomes as heroic measures to deal with the big risks to health. All around the developed world, mortality from all causes is steadily declining at all ages,
and most of that decline in mortality (and consequent increase in life expectancy) has come about from incremental reductions in risk. Changing engineering standards for highway construction reduces risk of injury and of death from car crashes. Simple checklists can reduce the risk of surgical complications.
A girl with my daughter's birth year in the United States has a better than even chance to live to be 100 years old,
just from an accumulation of incremental improvements in health in the developed countries. The little things matter. We don't have to worry about the little things. Indeed, we can celebrate that so many little things are taken care of for us by societal changes.
To take the author's example of sleeping in the jungle under dead trees, when you first become aware of the hazard, you have to stop and look at your campsite before deciding whether or not to pitch a tent there. Eventually it just becomes part of your background processing when checking a spot, and you would pass up an otherwise nice spot without stopping to think why. If asked, it might take you a moment of looking the spot over before realizing that it's because of the dead tree sitting over it.
If you think about it, it's a lot like developing good practices in coding. What at first is something you have to think about quickly becomes second nature. For example: why do you (possibly hypothetically) use curly braces around a single line block following an if statement in a C-like language?
Several reasons if you think about it. First, so that you can't forget to add them in when you need to add another line. Second, because it makes it unambiguous which if or else if an else belongs to if you have a big nasty chain. You don't spend a lot of time thinking and stressing about those reasons every day, but having the habit protects you anyway.
Well, it's his choice of words. You seem to be trying to redefine the article to your liking.
You're right, rules like the curly braces one you mentioned eventually become second nature, such that you don't think about them. That's a "habit of thinking", as you say. That's clearly not what the author is talking about. The author uses words like: "hypervigilant", "obsess about the wrong things", "verging on paranoia", "constructive paranoia", "I remain alert", "I try to think constantly", "being attentive to hazards".
He's talking about an attitude which might very well bring about stress. It beign second nature to add a curly brace after an if statement doesn't.