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

August 18, 2019


Which should we be more afraid of: sharks
or horses? Before we answer that, let’s consider two
more questions: Which kills more people each year: car accidents,
homicide, and suicide combined… or cancer? And… are there more English words that start
with the letter ‘r’, or that have ‘r’ as the third letter? When answering questions like these offhand,
we tend to think in terms of examples, and assume that the more examples we can remember,
the more common a thing is. Unfortunately, we remember some things much more easily than
others, so this “availability heuristic” can lead us to make really bad assessments of
risk. Things that are more commonly and vividly
shown in the media, like a violent murder, will be a lot easier to remember than things
that are far more common in real life but aren’t as dramatic, like a cancer patient
dying peacefully at home. Likewise, thinking of things in familiar ways,
like alphabetical order, is a lot easier than new ways, like third letter order. But if
we actually count the words, this intuition turns out to be wrong: more than twice as
many words have “R” as a third letter than first letter! We can see this same effect happening in public
policy: Americans spend 25 times more money fighting terrorism than fighting cancer, even
though cancer kills almost two thousand times as many people. Both policy makers and the
public who elect them remember dramatic episodes of terrorism much more readily than boring
statistics about cancer… and that’s how priorities are set. The only way to avoid this availability bias
is to decide based on statistics, not the news. We just can’t trust our intuition to
accurately calculate risks. So, which causes more deaths: Jaws, or My
Little Pony? Sorry, sharks — horses are the real killers. If you liked this video, please share it,
and subscribe for updates. You can follow and contact us at Google Plus,
Twitter, and Facebook CogSai. To ask questions or suggest topics for future episodes, go
to http://cogsai.com/q

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  1. "Since 9/11, at least 41 terrorist attacks have been thwarted by law enforcement"
    hmm.. I think there is a good chance that there would not have been 41 attempts if the US was not in a war in two other countries trying to fight terrorism… :/ there was not 41 terrorist attacks a decade before 9/11 (as I remember) and the main motive behind 9/11 in the first place was American presence in Muslim land… Maybe there was a more cost effective way to fight al qaeda?

  2. I did not once say "spending on terrorism is invalid".. I asked for a more cost effective way, other than raging two multibillion dollar wars to fight it. I was trying to say that your argument ‘that if we did not spend so much money on terrorism, more attacks would be successful’..is faulty because there is good reason to believe that if we did not spend so much money there would be less attempted attacks.

  3. @Spart248, if we spent absolutely nothing on terrorism it still couldn't come near claiming as many lives as cancer, no matter how many attacks were provoked by such an attitude. You're right, though, in that we should spend just enough to catch some attackers and thus make many potential attackers hesitate (or drive up the expense of being a terrorist). But we spend vastly more than that.

  4. Even assuming that we have thwarted 41 attacks – did we really need all that money to do so? What if we could have spent half as much, prevented only 40 attacks, and used the extra money fighting cancer? I won't claim to know the efficiency of terror-fighting vs cancer-fighting (in terms of lives saved per dollar), but I suspect cancer-fighting is more efficient.

  5. I quite like this. However, now I'm a bit sad cause I was gonna start a psychology channel like this and now I feel like I'll be copying somebody else. :[

  6. both of yall are wrong. first maybe we shouldnt be spending so much fucking up other countries so that maybe they would stop hating us. people dont understand that we have been bombing countries for DECADES, do people actually think we have bombs that only kill the bad guys? NO.. i know if i was in their shows i would try to kill as many fuckers from the country that dropped that bomb.

  7. the stats really have nothing to do with it. why bc i bet if i put a horse and a shark in front of u i can guarantee u will be afraid of the shark more than horse regardless of how many injuries a horse causes. u got owned burned bc im the boss

  8. That is true, and while I completely agree I do believe it is noteworthy to take into account the effect some things have on our minds. Terrorism, even whilst not even on the radar, can and will change the general mindset for the worse. That is not to say your video isn't awesome, in fact I subbed.

  9. @leckerwurstbrot idiot he asked who should we be afraid of most and I gave my answer, that question should be ask to that guy that made the video

  10. Sure, Cancer kills more people per year, but that's not to say that spending 25 times more money on Cancer research would suddenly find a cure for everything. Also, terrorism has the potential of killing millions of people in one attack. don't forget that.

  11. Sharks are dealier but kill less people because of the rare cases of humans confronting a shark; the same as an airplane crash, it's deadlier but it's rarer. So the title can be at some point misleading ;S

    Still, nice video 😉

  12. something else you should consider is that cancer progress doesn’t scale like other areas per amount of money spend, perhaps you could spend all the money in the world on cancer research and still get no results, obviously this prolly isn’t true in real life im just stretching the situation so the detail im trying to point out is easier to see perhaps its the other way around, i don’t know im just saying its another factor that should be considered in decision making in addition to the stats.

  13. Don't we spend much more time around horses than around sharks? That would explain why horses kill more people than sharks…

  14. A good idea but, here's food for thought … Sharks: untamable (to our knowledge), carnivorous animals. Horses: easily tamable, herbivorous animals. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people interact with horses daily. I could probably count on my two hand how many people interact w/ sharks daily.

  15. that's not true… lol just because you throw a bunch of money at something doesn't mean there will be a solution… you need to have a basis to start on… we had a strong basis of how to stop terrorism… retaliation… however cancer is much trickier since there isn't even a clear concept of a path to take to a cure yet… so you can't really say that if a bunch of money is thrown at cancer r&d we'll instantly save lives… because its just not true…

  16. this is a continuation of my previous post… but the thing is… you didn't take time into account anywhere in this video… and nor did you take into account what would have happened if we didn't prioritize the terrorist attacks… the numbers of deaths could have been astronomically larger… you never know… i understand your point between sharks and horses… i'm not arguing that… but terrorism vs cancer is a bad analogy is all…

  17. I'm not here to start an argument, but the point you end on with sharks less kills than horses I believe to be statistically bias.
    Horses have a considerable statistical advantage of being where humans are more often; Leading to more interactions, both good and bad. The main reason for this advantage being that humans tend to avoid sharks, and not horses, and that sharks generally don't swim in shallow waters. The video was pretty cool though not gonna lie, I hope to see more 🙂

  18. I wouldn't call it statistical bias. I think he just looked at totals, and didn't account for exposure to these animals. But if you think about it, if you did count exposure, shark would win every time because it is a naturally aggressive and territorial creature, while the horse is not. Sai is just trying to explain a cognitive phenomenon through an easily understandable example. I understand your complaint, and while it may be valid, it isn't relevant to the main point of the video.

  19. Well I was actually asking the question, should we spend a disproportionate amount of money (I'm not talking about the current extremes) because it affects our minds this much. Think of Neil Degrasse's NASA talk. These events change the minds of people.

  20. 1:51 Credits and references. That's a nice touch. Do you intend to keep some kind of 'citations info' at the end of each video?

  21. if as many people who rode horses rode sharks, that number would be way higher for the shark 🙂 lol

  22. Thats not what i meant when i said taking time into account… I meant a given point in time not a stretch of time… and at the time that terrorism was prioritized… it was the threat we could manage… we couldn't and still cannot manage the threat that cancer provides… and because of that we should instead prevent loss of life where we can… instead of where we can't because we do not have a cure nor were we or are we close to finding one…

  23. Wonder how many of those shark deaths came from people trying to ride them? And how many of the horse deaths came from people not trying to ride them?

  24. I was going to ask you on how you mimicked artistic style so well, but then I read the description :(.

  25. There are also many private firms that do security and military operations. Look up Serco. They run a lot of security operations, as well as prisons and detention centres…

  26. I always heard and can see the logic in the proverb "there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics." How would you make it so that even the statistics are unbiased?

  27. I was so let down by the fact that he did not address the fact that horse encounters are far more common. I would love to see the kill per encounter stats on animals.

  28. Little known fact: Twilight Sparkle and friends are in fact a highly trained assassination team.

  29. I love horses and there gentle and kind loving, how can this be true? I suppose they r the stats of the USA I live in Australia!

  30. To die from a shark attack you would first need to actually be around sharks and considering the fact that America is a massive land mass where sharks are commonly not found then you are much less likely to be around sharks than horses. Also riding horses is a very dangerous sport if it goes wrong so it's not necessarily the horse that's doing the killings but rather that people just die from riding accidents. Whereas you'd have to be swimming in the ocean with sharks in order to get attacked.

  31. There are a few other ways to look at it. First way, are sharks more deadly over time spent with them as opposed to time spent with horses. This, admittedly, is hard to quantify, however, it would change the perception. Another way to look at is to compare the lethality of incidents with horses with those of a shark. If the percentage of injuries that leads to death is larger for sharks, they would be deadlier.

  32. However, some of those deaths are from horses trampling and kicking people, and at least 38 million sharks are killed by people each year. Obviously something is very wrong with the perception of how dangerous sharks are, and how being around horses is very safe.

  33. Over 38 million sharks are killed each year- obviously people are spending time around them to kill them. There are also many species of very small sharks. Horses can also be aggressive and kill a person with a single kick. The percentage of lethal injuries is still much higher for horses, sorry!

  34. Ok, let's discount harmless/small sharks and those on a net. Are you really telling me that you are more likely to die from a kick/trample from a horse than a bite from a shark? I'm sorry, but horses hooves were made for walking, not ripping apart flesh. Clever thinking, though.

  35. YES! (banging my head against wall) Here are some reasons: Even big sharks would rather find something smaller and puts up less struggle than a human being. Even in cases of shark attacks, the victim is more likely to have a hand or foot bitten off than actually die. Horses have been bred for war since first being domesticated. Here's a book: "Deadly Equines: The Shocking True Story of Meat-Eating and Murderous Horses" I could go on…

  36. I'm not sure about horses being so harmless even per encounter. To be certain I'd like to see stats about how many horses are put down each year for being too aggressive. Also injuries per incident vs deaths. Remember horses were domesticated for war as well as transportation. They can be pretty vicious. My little pony my a**!!

  37. we must set the numbers of contact with the beast equal and only then we can compare the number of accidents related with those animals
    i.e. number of contact with the shark could be something like a 1000 a year
    Whereas horse is being contacted 100 000 a day.

  38. Yeah, great video, although I would rather spend 10 minutes in a stable with a horse than in a swimming pool with a shark, any day, but of course, we are much more carefree with horses, i.e. many don't ride sharks.

    I suppose it's a bit like the trouble with marijuana and alcohol; you can say that statistics show how alcohol does far more to us than marijuana… although, it's clear that one person alone would do much better on any amount of beer than on the same amount of weed.

  39. mmm I'm not buying that it's WAY safer. You're taking one problem and asserting that it's all the problems. All the cases of cannabis that I've seen have been far worst than people who regularly drink. I knew a boy who went from a bright mature guy to being permanently brain dead just from a couple of sessions. I get absolutely wrecked but I can wake up feeling fresh with enough water to continue to function very well as well as a ton of others. I don't see anyone doing that with marijuana.

  40. Everybody LOVES horses and hates sharks. Thats Stupid. People should love sharks just as well as horses And yes that its true about 9 people get killed by sharks each year but 215 people DO get killed by horses.

  41. you should take the amouth of interactions with your calculations, if there are 10000 people, where 3 are going to swim in a pool with a shark, and 6000 are going to ride a horse
    the shark kills 1 person
    20 people die from falling of a horse

    what is deadlier?
    swimming with a shark or riding horse?

    the shark kills 1/3th of the people who he might have killed
    the horse only killed 20/6000 = 1/300
    in this example the shark is still 100 times deadlier than a horse

    **these where examples**

  42. so what i'm trying to say is, you started with the question of wich one you should be more afraid, in that case you should not look to the amouth of deaths, but to the deaths/interactions, that way you know if it is safer to swim with a shark or ride a horse.

    ps, for them who know: >> /)

  43. A person can drink themselves to death on beer with the right amount of effort. It is considered impossible, in practice, to smoke oneself to death in a sitting on weed. It's said that you'd have to smoke ~1KG all at once to get a lethal dose. Which is more than 1000x what a person will typically smoke in a sitting.

    As far as driving, etc… studies have shown that stoned drivers net out only slightly worse than sober.

  44. Still, hard to know how often a person is exposed to the presence of a shark. Sharks are said to avoid humans for the most part. Probably a lot of people are within 'striking distance' of sharks in the ocean and never know it.

  45. I loved the animation and the way it was presented short and to the point to much rambling could have confused me more lol

  46. But when u decide based on statistics, it's important to always consider RELATIVE values. The numbers in the given examples are all absolute, which doesn't make sense (although of course the conclusion in these cases still is the right one). When e.g. thinking about sharks or horses as killers u have to consider, how many people in the given time span were in the potential danger to get killed by shark/horse and how many actually died. Only the percentage is what should drive you – no absolute numbers.

  47. This is misinterpretation of data.

    Let's say there are two mountains. The first mountain has a gradual incline and is very easy to climb to the top. 10,000 people climb it every year. 5 people die from climbing it per year. The second mountain is very steep and hard to climb up. The inclines are such that if you lose your footing you could fall to your death. Because it is so dangerous only 100 people attempt climbing it per year, and of those one hundred, 1 dies. Now, you could compare the two mountains and say that the first one is "more dangerous" because more people died doing it. But this ignores the fact that only 0.05% of people who attempted it died–compared to 1% for the more dangerous mountain. Danger is not calculated by base rates, but by probability.

    The same goes with horses and sharks.

  48. you could use this to place thoughts or reactions in to peoples minds before a future event occurs.

    didnt trump do this with lyin ted nickname?

  49. Wrong! Sharks are deadlier. There are entire industries develop around horses: rodeos, horse racing, Olympic equestrian events and recreational riding just to name a few. Many more people ride, groom, feed and breed horses than have contact with sharks. If horses are deadlier then why aren't more shark jockeys?

  50. The meaning is good but it falls through. Yeah there are more injuries with horses, but there’s also MUCH more interraction with horses. You have an entire subculture that interracts with them daily vs a rare encounter. A better comparison would be bears.

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