We have previously pointed out that fewer people die in shark attacks than are killed by cows. But sharks are hardly the only danger the world loves to overhype.
In fact, sometimes the things that seem deadliest aren't so much deadly as they are inconvenient. For example ...
7You Have a 96 Percent Chance of Surviving a Plane Crash
You constantly hear about how safe air travel is, how rarely planes crash and how you're many times more likely to die in a car accident. All of that is true. But the reason we still get a bit nervous when strapping in for a flight is because we know that if the plane does go down, we are screwed.
A car accident you might walk away from. But you're not walking away from a flimsy aluminum tube plummeting 30,000 feet and smashing into the ground. Right?
And if you survive the crash, you still have those polar bears to contend with.
You probably will. Out of the collective 53,487 people involved in plane crashes in the U.S. from 1983 to 2000, 51,207 survived. That's nearly a 96 percent survival rate.
If you're wondering how that's possible, just look at something like Aloha Airlines Flight 243. That plane had half of its fuselage ripped off in midair after an explosive decompression:
The sky filled with John Grisham novels and half-empty cans of cranapple juice.
But, as is often the case, the pilot successfully got it onto the ground in a way that did not cause it to erupt in a giant fireball. As a result, out of 94 people, only one person died on that flight (the one person who wasn't strapped to her seat when the plane fell apart -- hey, that's why they have those seat belts!).
Here's a flight from 2001 where the plane lost both engines at 33,000 feet and was still 135 miles from the airport. Oh, and they also lost all hydraulic power, so they couldn't operate the flaps or brakes. The pilot muscled the dead aircraft into a series of gentle 360-degree turns to reduce speed and altitude until the aircraft glided to the airport, where the pilot could carefully set it down on the runway. No one was killed.
But every pair of pants on the flight was ruined forever.
See, this is why you still need a pilot at the wheel instead of just letting autopilot take care of the whole trip, or letting passengers take turns behind the stick. They're there in case something goes wrong, and they're pretty freaking good at their jobs.
Also good at their jobs? The engineers who built these things. A plane can absorb a lot of shit going wrong before it just submits to plummeting sadly to earth. It's full of backups, redundancies and safety measures meant to keep it aloft even if multiple systems fail.
So, what is the secret to surviving an airplane crash? Remarkably, doing exactly as you are told. Yes, those in-flight demonstrations of how to use a seat belt are ridiculous, but if you're out of fuel and about to do an emergency landing in the ocean, that's going to be the difference between floating safely away on your seat cushion versus trying to jump out of the plane because you saw Arnold Schwarzenegger do it in Commando.
"Fuck you, sky, I am a GOD!"
6Getting Shot Is Only Fatal 5 Percent of the Time (If You Get to a Doctor)
In action movies, the rule for bullet wounds is fairly consistent:
Get shot in the arm or leg? It's basically a mosquito bite.
Get shot anywhere in the body? You're dead before you hit the ground.
This man had a gun thrown at him.
Obviously the first one only happens in movies because nobody pays to watch Bruce Willis sitting in an emergency room for an hour waiting for them to tend to his wounded shoulder. But then you have the second part -- if you shoot a bad guy in the chest or really anywhere in the torso, he's down for the count.
Indiana Jones whips out his gun and shoots that swordsman somewhere in the middle of the body and just turns around and walks away, knowing the guy is dead. It's been the same with tens of thousands of movie shootouts since the days of silent-film Westerns -- one shot, one kill. Here's a whole mess of dudes with no tolerance for bullets whatsoever:
In real life, unless you're one of those dudes getting shot in the head or perfectly in the heart, you're probably going to make it if you can get medical attention. According to one doctor who has a little experience with these things, as long as your heart is still beating once they wheel you into the hospital, there is a 95 percent chance of survival.
Ninety-five percent! We'd think the fatality rate would be higher from getting shot with a damned paintball gun.
Don't worry, they'll both be rebuilt as robot cops, and then the Blue Team will pay.
It turns out that your body is actually pretty damned resilient, and just as well engineered as those planes we mentioned in the previous entry. You're built to keep going despite taking a lot of damage. According to former military surgeon Dr. Martin L. Fackler, "Shots to roughly 80 percent of targets on the body would not be fatal blows."
Now, obviously, if you get shot and left in the desert to die, you've got a problem -- and each additional bullet hole significantly raises your chances of blood loss, shock or, well, death by bullet hole. But it's possible to rack up 20 bullet wounds and live to tell the tale. Just ask North Carolina man Kenny Vaughan, who was shot about 20 times with a rifle that was only 5 feet away.
Pictured: An entire episode of The X-Files.
Oh, and then there is Angel Alvarez, who was shot more than 20 times in 2010 and survived. Or Howard Morgan, who survived more than two dozen gunshot wounds after opening fire on police like an idiot. Or, lastly, soldiers like Roy Benavidez, who somehow survived 37 separate "bayonet, bullet and shrapnel wounds" over the course of six hours. That's the human body for you. Well, if you consider such a feat human.
There's a reason Reagan looks nervous. These soldiers were never supposed to be known.
So if you need to kill a bad guy, really you should leave nothing to chance and just stab him right in the heart. The only problem there is ...