The phrase “Be afraid, be very afraid” was a tagline from the 1986 horror flick The Fly. Since then it has been used in reference to everything from terrorism to technology. Just Google the phrase and you’ll get about 183 million results. The thing is, being afraid is a natural human emotion, programmed into the nervous system. THE TRICK IS TO BE APPROPRIATELY AFRAID OF THE RIGHT THINGS . . . OR MAYBE, WHEN TO BE AFRAID AND WHEN TO BE VERY AFRAID. What people commonly fear is not always what should be causing that fight-or-flight spike of adrenaline.
Afraid to fly?
Harvard-educated Professor Jeffrey Rosenthal estimates that a person has a 0.00001% chance of dying in an airplane crash. On the other hand, the car insurance industry estimates that the average driver will be involved in 3 or 4 car crashes in their lifetime and the odds of dying in a car crash are 1 to 2%.
Afraid of heights?
It’s the second most reported fear. Your chance of being injured by falling, jumping or being pushed from a high place is 1 in 65,092. The chance of having your identity stolen is 1 in 200.
Anxious about a terrorist attack?
You are 17,600 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist attack. Moral here: Don’t avoid going to the SuperBowl, and don’t avoid going for an annual physical.
Spiders your nemesis?
Your chances of being injured by a spider bite are 1 in 716,010. The chance you will be a victim of assault at some point in your lifetime is 1 in 214.
Afraid of drowning or submersion?
The odds are 1 in 15,498, but the odds of your being injured by accidental poisoning are 1 in 281 if you include drugs, alcohol and vapors.
Swear off beef?
Your odds of contracting mad cow disease are 1 in 40 million, but your odds of being audited by the IRS are 1 in 250 (The IRS . . . be very afraid.)
Threats from out of the blue?
Do you fear being killed by a bolt of lightning? The odds of that happening are 1 in 2.3 million. You’re much more likely to be struck by a meteorite (those lifetime odds are about 1 in 700,000, according to the Discovery channel).
Dog vs. lawnmower?
Their bark really is worse than their bite: Your chance of suffering a dog bite is 1 in 137,694. On the other hand, your chance of being injured while mowing the lawn is 1 in 3,623.
The Jaws of Death?
Who doesn’t have a sense of foreboding just from hearing the musical “dum-dum dum-dum dum-dum” from the movie Jaws? All those sharp teeth, fearsome stalking, cold-blooded attack from behind . . . no, not a shark . . . it’s your spouse. You’re much more likely to be killed by your spouse (1 in 135,000) than a shark (1 in 300 million).
Won’t ride a roller coaster?
If you have the patience to stand in the line, your ride will probably be safe. The chance of a roller coaster injury is 1 in 300 million. However, if you play with fireworks on the Fourth of July, you’re really playing with fire – chance of injury is 1 in 20,000.
First, do no harm?
Regardless of your position on gun control, your chance of being shot by someone is 1 in 15,565. On the other hand, the chance you will suffer complications from medical or surgical care is 1 in 1,170, according to the National Safety Council.
Stride or ride?
If you think you’re safer walking than riding a motorcycle, think again. You’re twice as likely to suffer an injury as a pedestrian than while astride a cycle.
Just don’t swallow?
Your chance of dying from food poisoning is 1 in 3 million, but your chance of dying due to choking on food is 1 in 370,000. And watch out for those toothpicks! In America, the non-food item most often choked on is a toothpick. Some sources say 100 people die each year from choking on a ballpoint pen . . . go figure.
While age and many other factors increase one’s chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease, if you’re a man your lifetime risk is 9%, and it’s 17% if you’re a woman. If you’re a man, your lifetime risk of developing some form of cancer is 44%; it’s 38% if you’re a woman. So don’t forget to schedule those PSA tests and mammograms.
Thank You to Some of Our Sources…