In the world of cable news and pseudoscience, many people in America and all over the world live in a perpetual state of fear.
The six o'clock news is essentially a list of horrible things that have happened to people that day. Many of our politicians now use fear to drive people to political decisions. Even some scientists are resorting to fear in order to get a message across when they aren't heard.
Unfortunately, the result has been a generation of ill-informed people and a slew of "helicopter parents."
Fortunately, you probably have far less to worry about than you think. Here are a few "scary" things you may fear with all your heart but, in reality, aren't anything you should be worrying about.
Let us be frank: Asteroids are real, and there are a lot of them. Scientists across the globe have concluded that there are millions of Near Earth Objects (NEOs). We've logged about 12,000 of those that are asteroids into a database.
As IFL reported this week, the chances we experience a cataclysmic asteroid in our lifetime "is roughly in the same ballpark as you being involved in a fatal car accident on a given day." So if you spend nights staring at your ceiling wondering whether an asteroid might hit, but then get up and drive to work in the morning, you should start to rest easy.
If that's not enough, you should know that every single day, scientists all over the world are thinking of new ways to destroy an asteroid in space in the event we predict it's coming for us.
if you were getting ready to make plans for the Fourth of July last week, you probably heard one major warning: there was a good chance the holiday would be used to stage a major terrorist attack. Former CIA director Michael Morrell even proclaimed he "wouldn't be surprised if we were sitting [in the studio] next week discussing an attack on the US."
Unfortunately for Morrell and other major news outlets, one fact remains: terrorist attacks have never been successfully predicted. In fact, since 9/11, the F.B.I. has been zero for 40 when predicting specific terrorist attacks. As Adam Johnson explained on Fair.org, this tired "media trope" has recently been supported by "ISIS arrests" which, in reality, were arrests of FBI informants.
On top of all that, the Center for Research on Globalization says that you are 35,079 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist attack. So instead of worrying about terrorism the next time you go to a crowded place, think about that statistic the next time you bite into a cheeseburger.
If you've ever stepped inside a D.A.R.E. program or had a parent from the mid 20th century, chances are you know marijuana as a "gateway drug." In other words, you know it as a drug that will lead you to more destructive vices that will eventually kill you.
Unfortunately for the "war on drugs" and law enforcement, marijuana as a gateway drug is simply "the myth that will not die." As it has been reported time and time again, most marijuana users never go on to use or try harder drugs that may be deemed more dangerous.
As marijuana legalization begins to spread across America, it will be important people do their own research about the risks of using marijuana (which, like many drugs, are abundant). But if you're worried about trying pot once and then turning into a lifelong addict, chances are you can let your guard down.
25 million Americans have a fear of flying, but it remains one of the safest forms of transportation around.
Even with the amazing technology that has made flying so safe in the 21st century, it's no wonder people remain scared when planes are disappearing or pilots are flying with mental illness. Despite that, though, it's important to know the reality: U.S. commercial jet airlines offer a 1 in 7 million chance of death. Even more, it'd require 67,833 years of daily flights in order to achieve a 99 percent chance of dying in a plane crash.
Even death by tornado or bee (we'll get to that below) have a far greater chance of occurring than death by plane.
A fear of sharks, like a fear of flying, is one that is both justified by the news and easily remedied with a little common sense. Of course, any time a shark attacks someone, it is plastered on every news channel for 24 hours. What doesn't get spoken about is the millions of people who swim in oceans every single day without incident.
In fact, there are only a measly 70 shark attacks on average worldwide each year, and only a handful of those are fatal. That means for every single person who goes swimming the ocean each year, you have a 1 in 11 million chance of being attacked by a shark, and a 1 in 264 million chance of dying from a shark attack. That means your chances of being killed by a falling coconut or by falling out of bed are quite significantly higher.
In case you're still nervous, there is plenty of info on how to decrease your chances of shark attack even more: namely, swimming in the water in a group, not swimming at dusk and refusing to enter the water with an open wound.
Comparatively, bees may be a bit more scary than you think. They are, after all, the most dangerous animal on the planet in terms of deadliness. An allergic reaction to their sting kills about 53 Americans per year. The big qualifier there, though, is the allergy. If you aren't allergic to bees, there is far more good to them than bad, and you shouldn't waste time running from or killing them.
From pollination alone, honey bees contribute more than $14 billion to the value of crop production in the U.S. They're smarter than you think, too. A New York Times report explained how bees can actually recognize faces in a similar way humans can.
7. Not owning a gun
Despite what you may think, gun ownership isn't just a partisan issue. Both the right and the left in American politics can manipulate statistics and newsworthy events to push their own agenda. On one hand, a dangerous gun-yielding person with the intent to kill is less dangerous if a well-meaning and well-armed citizen is present to defend themselves. And that's a valid point.
But the recent domestic terrorism in America has also made many believe that they are safer if they own a gun, which simply isn't true. Aside from the fact that, by 2012, a mass shooting hadn't been stopped by a gun in 30 years, there was also this: homes with guns were linked to higher rates of suicide, homicide and accidental death by gun. A Philadelphia study also found that the odds of an assault victim being shot were four times higher if they carried a gun.
The good news it that it appears gun ownership in America is at an all-time low, with about 32 percent of Americans saying they own a gun or live with someone who does.
Get your children vaccinated. Period.
Despite dominating the headlines last year, the truth is Ebola — in countries with modern health care — has been called an "eminently treatable" disease. How treatable Ebola can be was discovered when the disease arrived in America, and all eight of the citizens who contracted it and were treated in the U. S. survived. That number was in stark contrast to the 90 percent of patients we saw killed by the disease in Africa, where running water and protective suits were less common for healthcare workers.
As long as the disease is treated early on and aggressively, it typically doesn't stand a chance. Now the next big step is finding ways to provide that kind of healthcare to nations in need abroad.
Hitchhiking is a lost art in America. Authors like Jack Kerouac made the activity almost divine, and people twenty years ago would use hitchhiking as a way to get from point A to point B without much thought (even if it meant going across the country).
So what happened to hitchhiking? Well, nothing, really. In fact, some people believe it's making a comeback as citizens everywhere begin to realize the chance of you being killed or raped while hitchhiking in America is an astonishing .0000089 percent. Since 1979, there have only been 500 interstate murders, none of which government statistics can directly link to hitchhiking.
Obviously, there is always danger when getting into the car of a stranger. But there are also simple ways to make it much safer: like swimming with sharks, travel in a group. Keep your phone on you if you have one and be sure to let friends or family know what you are doing and where you are going in the event that something does happen. But most of all, try to relax and enjoy the mystery of the road.
Obviously, it is counterintuitive to think jumping out of a plane is even remotely safe. But then again, that's why we have statistics. There are an estimated 3 million skydive jumps per year, but in 2010 ,the fatality count was only 21. That number comes from the United States Parachuting Association. In other words, you're about 24 times more likely to die in a car accident than skydiving. So rock on!