Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Daily Briefing for Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Preparedness and Statistics

My high school classmate, John the Banker, suggested I read "The Drunkard's Walk - How Randomness Rules Our Lives."  I'm through a couple of chapters already, and while I struggle through some of the more complex statistical nuances, one of the early premises of the book is abundantly clear: we make major life decisions with precious little regard for the statistical data which supports or refutes those decisions.

This reading, coupled with the article I referenced last weekend, has me really thinking about one of the crucial failures in the preparedness movement - the need to execute the basics well.

Let me expand on that.  From the aforementioned article:

.....Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.  Imagine that! You are statistically much more likely to be affected by the choices you make regarding diet and exercise than you are to be attacked and killed by an armed intruder.  I often run into “gun guys” who excuse their poor physical condition by telling me that is why they carry a gun … because they are just going to shoot someone rather than fight them.  First of all, it is not always that simple, and second, those guys are often the ones who die at a much younger age due to complications caused by an unfit lifestyle.

Using statistics gleaned from the Center for Disease Control, we see there's some merit to this proposition:

Number of deaths for leading causes of death

  • Heart disease: 599,413
  • Cancer: 567,628
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 137,353
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 128,842
  • Accidents (unintentional injuries): 118,021
  • Alzheimer's disease: 79,003
  • Diabetes: 68,705
  • Influenza and Pneumonia: 53,692
  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 48,935
  • Intentional self-harm (suicide): 36,909
We are far, far more likely to take the big ride due to a heart attack, cancer, COPD, strokes, unintentional injuries, Alzheimer's and diabetes than you are from an exotic form of the flu.  Yet most preppers spend more time on collecting defensive weapons and storable food than they do on improving their physical fitness and diet. 

If you're overweight with an arsenal, are you really better off than someone who is in good physical shape with only one gun?  If you have a year's worth of food and smoke/drink a pack a day, are you really better off than the regular jogger who has less food and fewer chemical addictions?

Start thinking about the statistics.  What are the most likely threats to your well being?  Prepare for those first.

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