5-Shot Friday: Orlando, Numbers, and Action
Hello, and welcome to the fourth, sobering, and numbers-rich installation of 5-Shot Friday.
It’s been less than a week, and the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando continues to dominate the news cycle.
The mind reels with the enormity of the event: 49 victims, plus the radicalized domestic terrorist dead, and 53 others injured, 6 of those still in critical condition. I can feel my own mind shutting down when I try to see details of the worst mass shooting in US history – I just don’t wanna.
It’s never just about the numbers, though the numbers are bad enough.
If you’re not a numbers person, statistics can feel meaningless, untrustworthy, or even insulting. People resist being reduced to statistics, and responses to an event come from different, non-numerical places within ourselves. There’s the political angle, the public policy angle, the personal protection angle, and the “there but for the grace of God go I” angle – among many others.
If numbers don’t scare you, statistics can be revealing. There’s a difference between what people say and what they actually do – and numbers can show you the latter.
This Washington Post article from 6 months ago was the first I’ve read that sheds some light on why we focus on certain numbers – certain estimations of risk – while ignoring others:
“…individuals’ sense of control directly influences their feeling about whether they are susceptible to a given risk. Thus, for instance, although driving is more likely to result in deadly accidents than flying, individuals tend to feel that the latter is riskier than the former. Flying involves giving up control to the pilot. The resulting sense of vulnerability increases the feeling of risk, inflating it far beyond the actual underlying risks.”
We are hard wired, it seems, to focus on what we can’t control, what we dread and fear, and what we overestimate.
"Meanwhile, in the time it has taken you to read until this point, at least one American has died from a heart attack. Within the hour, a fellow citizen will have died from skin cancer. Roughly five minutes after that, a military veteran will commit suicide. And by the time you turn the lights off to sleep this evening, somewhere around 100 Americans will have died throughout the day in vehicular accidents – the equivalent of “a plane full of people crashing, killing everyone on board, every single day.”
And most alarming, but completely under the radar:
"When we miscalculate risks, we sometimes behave in ways that are riskier than those we are trying to avoid. For instance, in the months following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, millions of Americans elected not to fly. A significant proportion decided to drive to their destinations instead. Driving is more dangerous than flying. And so one scholar of risk, Gerd Gigerenzer, calculated that more people died from the resulting automobile accidents than the total number of individuals who were killed aboard the four hijacked planes Sept. 11.”
We pay a lot of attention to small, sharp events, while being content to ignore the steadily crushing steamrollers that affect each of us every day. There were nearly 33,000 people killed by terrorists in 2014 around the world, which is less than the number of Americans who die from influenza each and every year; four times that number of Americans died from poisonings that same year (see below).
More Americans will die on the roads today than will die from terrorist attacks on American soil in an entire year – even including the Orlando event.
2) California: Buying Tobacco Is Now Like Buying Alcohol
As of June 9th, it is now part of state law that you must be at least 21 to purchase tobacco products.
“Beginning Thursday, smokers have to be at least 21 to buy tobacco products in California. The nation"s most populous state joins Hawaii and more than 100 municipalities in raising the legal smoking age from 18 to 21. Anyone who sells or gives tobacco to people under 21 could be found guilty of a misdemeanor crime.”
According to the CDC, tobacco is “responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year, including nearly 42,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure. This is about one in five deaths annually, or 1,300 deaths every day.”
It’s not terrorists, and it’s not guns. It’s death by oopsie:
More than 136,000 Americans died accidentally in the 2014 measurement year – “accidentally” referring to the categories in the above graphic. And this number is pretty much an annual statistic, which has been growing.
That’s 45 times the number of people killed on 9/11. Each and every year.
You can draw what conclusions you like from the numbers, though I don’t think the point is to ban medications, cars, and bathtubs. According to the CDC, accidental deaths represent about 5% of the total deaths in the U.S. in a given year, and is about the fifth leading overall cause of death. By far, heart disease, cancer, and stroke were still the top 3 killers, accounting for over 50%. Everything else in the Top 10, not surprisingly, is a disease of some kind, like Influenza, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. Translation: death from the unintended will always be with us, but if you want to stiff-arm the grim reaper, focus on avoiding chronic conditions and protecting against infection.
On a more positive note: from the Barbell Shrugged website, insights into strength training with major carry over into general wellness.
Drop everything and train, or d3&t:
"Yes, we’ve had a few phrases over the years. Some were funny, a few were even useful. But only one phrase has proven durable and real enough to serve as our default battle flag, our rallying cry.
"It doesn’t look like much at first. It doesn’t even make sense – d3&t, what is that?
"The name itself is very easy to explain. To d3&t means to, “Drop Everything & Train.” As it suggests, this is a call to action. Actually, our exact call to action. The “3” in the title points to 3 o’clock, our sanctioned training time. But all the real power here is contained in the depth.
“Real knowledge is about taking action. And this particular action of “dropping everything” works at three distinct, body-strengthening, life-changing levels.”
Gary Vaynerchuk swims in some of the same waters as Tim Ferriss, which is to say, they are both entrepreneurs who are great communicators, and much sought after by other entrepreneurs for tips on how to get ahead.
If you want to take something on a personal scale – your interest in craft beer, say – and have it explode into a national or international scale success, these are your guys. And if you want to take a personal health goal and convert it from wishful thinking into reality, you can learn a lot from their insights. Entrepreneurs are about cutting through the BS and breaking big projects into discrete actionable steps.
Gary Vee’s latest post brings it all back to The One Action Item shared by all successful endeavors: ACTION.
"There are so many of you out there with the same exact questions about how to be an entrepreneur or how to run a successful business or how to do x, y, and z. And so many times I have given you the same answer: put out content; build a great product; test and try it all; use your data; use your intuition; test and learn, test and learn, test and learn. It takes time, talent, and skill…But one way not to do it is by watching all my videos or reading Seth Godin’s books and just pondering and white-boarding all day about what your next move is going to be. Too many of you just read and consume and make pretend and talk about how “you’re gonna do this” or “you’re gonna do that.” Lack of action is not the way to do it.”
His keynote to USC in 2015 is also not to be missed:
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