In the wake of recent news stories about shark attacks, it's difficult not to hear that telltale Jaws theme song in your head as you head to the beach. But according to the International Shark Attack File, in 2004, for example, there were only 61 unprovoked shark attacks on humans, 30 of which occurred in the United States. With a U.S. population of about 300 million, this means the odds of being attacked by a shark in the United States are roughly 1 in 10 million.I’ll buy that shark attacks are probably less likely than media reports would lead you to believe. But 1 in 10 million? That’s a dumb-ass statistic if ever there was one. Unless you think farmers plowing their fields in Kansas should be worried about land sharks, the relevant population for calculating the risk of shark attack is people who actually spend time in the ocean. I presume that is substantially smaller than the population of the whole United States.
(Thanks to my dad, who emailed me the link along with a single line of explanation: “perfect example of bogus statistics.” I concur.)