Recently I read an article in the Discover magazine, (okay, scanned the picture captions), about the fears people have. Mostly on how they fear the big things; shark attacks, airplane crashes, etc., but never mind the lung cancer, car crashes, heart attacks…. Apparently people are more afraid of the things that while big, rarely happen. 1 in 3,943,110 for a shark attack, too small for the Discover to even calculate on the chart they showed. Yeah, not terribly common. Heck, in 2007 (according to statistics Bill O’Reilly mentioned the other day) bee and wasp stings were the most deadly animal killers for the US. There were 57 deaths. No shark deaths. Not one. And yet, people are afraid of it.
So picture this. You have this guy working in a mine in West Virginia or Pennsylvania. Every day he goes deep into the mine and is hammering away. And what is he more afraid of? he’s not thinking about black lung that could kill him in ten years, or that the mine will cave in crushing him and his fellow miners. Not some dynamite that might explode trapping him and his crew in the mine where they die a slow death of oxygen deprivation. No, instead, every day the miner thinks about that one day there is going to be a crack in the wall of the mine when he takes his hammer or pick to it. the crack will widen and suddenly water will start to spew out of the fissure. The water will widen the crack until the wall crumbles and water will gush in. the mine will fill with water. but will the miner be afraid of drowning? No. No, what he will be most worried about is that that great white shark is going to come in with the water and eat him!
It doesn’t matter that the miner doesn’t live by the water and will probably never see the ocean, but he’s afraid of sharks.
Now, I’d love to take credit for this analogy/story, but I can’t. I guess imagination runs in the family because this was my father’s idea. Of course he also spit off about this same miner sitting at the bar with his glass of beer when all of a sudden this giant shark comes out of his glass and eats the miner before going back into the glass where you see this tiny shark swimming around……..
Yeah, imagination definitely runs in the family.
The point is that in some ways, the Discover article is a bit misleading because, really, are people that focused on the bizarre things that may or may not happen? Car wrecks are much more likely to kill you than a shark attack. My father says he thinks about the wrecks every time he drives. Which is also why he is one of the most careful drivers I know.
Moral to the story? Not really. I mostly just loved the idea of the miner who’s afraid of dying by shark attack.