I teach Introductory Psychology to community college students. Every semester I cover a unit on cognition, or thinking. How we make decisions, solve problems, process, understand, communicate, remember. All that nebulous stuff we can't see no matter how sophisticated our brain imaging technology becomes.
Part of this discussion involves the errors we make in our thinking. I love talking about this with my students because I get to play with their minds...trick them with riddles.
In addition, I usually include a lecture written by our textbook author, David Myers, on the subject: "The Fear Factor--Do We Fear the Right Things?" adding some interesting information from Laura Lee's book, The 100 Most Dangerous Things in Everyday Life and What You Can Do About Them. It usually means a lively and fun discussion. As Lee and Myers note, we all tend to overestimate the dangers of rare events (that are vivid in our memories) while disregarding the dangers of everyday, commonplace events.
So for today's Friday Fact, I thought I would share with you some statistics on the dangers of a few of those everyday, ordinary things in our lives:
1. Books. According the the US Consumer Product Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, 10,683 Americans every year are injured by books, magazines, albums, or scrapbooks. Another 1,490 are injured by magazine racks or bookends.
2. Chairs cause 13 times the number of injuries annually as chain saws. Myers states that "More than 410,000 Americans have seating mishaps each year." (I love that: "seating mishaps.")
3. Stairs. It is estimated that 1,091 Americans are killed annually on stairs, and an amazing 769,400 are injured. According to Myers, "an extensive study of stair use revealed that a noticeable misstep occurs [approximately] every 2,222 steps."
4. Finally, lest you think your should just stay in bed with the covers over your head...consider that 411,689 Americans annually sustain injuries related to beds, mattresses, and pillows. Thinking of getting a hospital bed with rails? Keep in mind that from 1985 to 2001, the US Food and Drug Administration recorded 479 incidents of patients being trapped in hospital beds, with 297 of these resulting in death.
So...maybe we shouldn't really be afraid of air travel or terrorist attacks. Maybe instead we need to start watching our steps. That 2,222nd one is a doozy!