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I am just going to put a couple of things here instead of on other social media venues because this seems like a better place for productive conversation.

After hearing about the horrible bike crash in Kalamazoo last week that killed 5 cyclists, I got to wondering again about where automobile crashes sit on the list of preventable causes of death.

The Wikipedia page provides some perspective, although it contains a note that the chart for the US is very much out-of-date. There's some additional information in a more recent CDC report (pdf), where automobile crashes are lumped into the category of "Unintentional injuries." There's a trend towards progress in terms of automobile crashes, although of course this depends on what one considers to be an acceptable level of preventable causes of death. And were firearms scrubbed from the record? I did not poke at this especially hard so I am still probably poorly informed.

Overall, human beings are terrible at being scared of the things we should actually be concerned about, because so many of these things are things that we are in contact with or experience over the course of everyday life, and so we just come to see them as something normal. In contrast, think about the extreme safety measures in place for airline travel. I also still see bicycling as a really good tool for reshaping these lists in a positive direction.

Also, this is mostly unrelated, but I am incredibly happy to see this article about bridging indigenous and scientific knowledge in Science. I am happy because it's a beacon of hope, and to me it's a wonderful form of trendy "Citizen Science" because it validates indigenous peoples' way of life.


( 7 remarks — Remark )
Jun. 14th, 2016 07:11 pm (UTC)
yes and
Pedestrians get hit by cars so much out here, and they never mention the make of the vehicle that killed them. Ten years ago they were talking about padding the fronts of cars to lessen injuries but that's gone no where, I think?

Our brain pays attention to things that make good stories for telling around the campfire. Boo.
Jun. 14th, 2016 07:55 pm (UTC)
I think the CDC has so many restrictions and lack of funding for studying gun violence (and direct pressure not to study it) that they basically don't.
Jun. 14th, 2016 10:34 pm (UTC)
Oh! You want this report. That's 2013 data, which is the latest available.

It looks like the CDC breaks out "cause of death" into mechanism (hit by car, fall, etc) and intent (accidental, homicide, etc). The full breakdown is in Table 18, starting on page 84.

So, for the two mechanisms you mentioned... About 33,000 people were killed by each cars and guns. Nearly everybody run over was hit accidentally, and 623 cyclists were killed.

Of those shot, most committed suicide (21k vs 11k murdered). However, guns remain the most popular way to murder people (11k killed of 16k).
Jun. 14th, 2016 10:44 pm (UTC)
Much more thorough statistics!

Where would one find specifics for terrorism, specifically? I keep thinking about how "terrorism" is, by definition, disproportionately feared compared to, say, homicide.
Jun. 14th, 2016 11:06 pm (UTC)
Jun. 22nd, 2016 06:12 pm (UTC)
Right! We fear the unlikely, while it's the everyday that gets us most of the time. Heart attacks. Car accidents.

And some things have multiple axes of threat that have different fixes... for guns, I think it would be useful to have good data on how many people are killed by a child getting access to a gun they shouldn't be able to (nearly all accidental deaths, I'd think, but don't know) versus an adult failing to clear the gun before trying to clean it (often results in them shooting themselves, sometimes results in them shooting other people) versus intentional acts of violence with a gun. Those seem to be non-overlapping solutions, to me, even if the first two are "education and mindfulness" based. But "don't put it where your five year old can find it" is not the same as "make sure you don't shoot yourself", and I don't think the fixes for either of those are going to address gang violence, frex.
Jun. 23rd, 2016 06:55 pm (UTC)
I appreciate the perspective/notion of multiple axes of threat having different fixes.

There's an episode of This American Life that has stuck with me on the subject of accidental gun deaths (also, FWIW, from what I see 2/3rds of gun deaths are listed as suicides). Of course, it's anecdata substituting for population-level info, but it raises questions. I'm going to spoil the story here. Basically, there's a father who was a longtime religious advocate of the "responsible gun ownership" stance. He taught his kids how to be careful with/around guns. While in high school, his daughter, practicing for a play in which a character ponders suicide, decides to add weight to her practice by using a real gun. She figures the gun is unloaded, but then pulls the trigger to check, and the gun goes off and shoots a hole in her bedroom floor (nobody hurt, bullet hole obscured by thick shag carpet). She is terrified/horrified by the experience and puts the gun back where she found it.

It took years before she worked up the courage to tell her family about what happened. Interestingly, her brother has continued with his "responsible gun ownership" stance, but her father has changed his tune.

I do hope our country's leaders find ways to have more productive conversations about the axes of threat and their fixes. Personally I have a hard time seeing semi-automatic assault weapons as something that civilians should have access to. I also keep thinking about that student who disarmed the SPU shooter with pepper spray.
( 7 remarks — Remark )

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