By macleans.ca - Monday, December 31, 2012 - 0 Comments
A look back in memoriam of 25 notable names who left us in 2012
By Emma Teitel - Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 12:55 PM - 0 Comments
The things we’re most afraid of are usually the least likely to kill us
When 29-year-old Canadian skier Nik Zoricic was killed last Saturday coming off the final jump at a ski-cross race in Switzerland, the reaction was swift and predictable. Coming after the accidental death of Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke in Utah two months ago, outcries about an epidemic of fatalities in extreme sports were heard far and wide. The only people who were temperate in their reaction were Zoricic’s fellow skiers. One of them, Ashleigh McIvor, a gold medallist in ski cross at the Vancouver Olympics, emphasized the misguided alarm she saw in the general public by comparing competitive ski dangers to the perils of everyday life. “The fact is,” she said, “there are risks associated with our sport and practically everything I do in life. We’re probably just as safe doing our sport as we are driving down the highway.”
Are they really?
The question is less glib than it might seem. In 1999, American author Barry Glassner argued in his book, The Culture of Fear, that the things we’re most afraid of (crime, rare diseases, plane crashes) are usually the things least likely to kill us. For example, he writes about an especially common fear: “The average person’s probability of dying in an air crash is about 1 in 4 million, or roughly the same as winning the jackpot in a state lottery.” According to Glassner’s findings, if the U.S. government really cares about its citizens’ health, it should probably abandon its war on terror in favour of a greener Earth: the average person is far more likely to die in a car crash than in a terrorist attack.