Consider the following list of odds by various causes of death. Are there any that surprised you? Which ones did you think would be less likely to happen than the odds indicated, and which ones would you think would be more likely?

Heart disease

  • 1 in 7

Choking on food

  • 1 in 3,409


  • 1 in 7


  • 1 in 4,337

Asteroid (global impact)

  • 1 in 75,000

Expert Answers

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The answer to this question is going to come down to your internalized assumptions about each of these topics. I think your teacher is asking you this question to get you thinking about how statistics can both support and disprove our assumptions. These assumptions aren't always explicit. For example, you may not have ever purposefully thought about how likely you are to die from bicycling. However, when you see the statistics, you could be surprised to see that your chances are 1 in 4,337. That could seem relatively high or relatively low to you. There are no right or wrong answers here. Your task is to just honestly consider how each of the stats aligns with your internalized assumptions.

So take some time to look through the list and see how each of the statistics feels to you. Then, ask yourself why they feel either too high, too low, or just about right. Through this exercise, you may start to realize more about how we, as humans, make assumptions and how those assumptions relate to statistics. During this process, it's important to realize that statistics should take precedence over our assumptions, not the other way around. This is an important fact to keep in mind as you dive further into your studies on stats. Good luck!

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