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Author Topic: What's killing us?  (Read 1965 times)

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Offline mystictigerTopic starter

What's killing us?
« on: December 04, 2010, 07:00:28 AM »
I've spent rather more time than I would have liked in various NHS wards over the last 10ish days. The chap in the bed next to me was... somewhat bitter and cynical. His line of argument was that we, as a species, are doomed - war is a scourge and that we're going to self destruct.

This got me thinking about what is killing us off as a species, and I was shocked to learn that more people die in RTAs than in war, that more people die each year from "unintentional injuries" than from HIV-AIDS, and that war and syphillis are about equal. I found this and the various references and sources kind of life-affirming actually. To me it suggests that most of what is wiping us out are design faults, infections, or incompetence. In fact, we seem quite inept at wiping each other out.

Offline Oniya

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Re: What's killing us?
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2010, 12:52:14 PM »
Actually, you'd be surprised at how many of the cardiovascular and other chronic diseases are 'us killing us'.  Ignoring or not diagnosing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes; liver diseases due to drugs and alcohol, cancers from smoking, accidents from DUIs - do you see where I'm going here?  It may not be one person killing a different person, but it is a human being killing a human being, through ignorance or willful decision.

Offline Asuras

Re: What's killing us?
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2010, 05:25:05 PM »
The vast majority of people today (and indeed throughout history) die of disease. Even the most catastrophic wars - like World War I - are dwarfed by pandemic disease like the Spanish Flu.

That doesn't quite acquit humanity of what humanity does to itself. People starve to death even though we have more than enough food. People die of diseases that we have had vaccines for for decades. People die of diseases that basic medical care and sanitation could eliminate as they do in developed nations. So people are dying in poor countries even though we as the human race know how to save them. In addition to the fraction that die in actual military conflicts.

Conventional war does not pose an existential threat to humanity but I do think that we don't take as much responsibility as necessary for what does kill humanity, which is mainly diseases and starvation that we have beaten technologically. But we've failed to implement those solutions globally. I think that's humanity's responsibility.

And the advent of nuclear war does kind of change just how destructive mankind can be against itself, but...so far we've done surprisingly well with that.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2010, 05:35:32 PM by Asuras »

Offline Asuras

Re: What's killing us?
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2010, 07:22:21 PM »
For instance, this week there was an election in the Ivory Coast, a country with 20 million people, roughly the population of Texas, New York, or Australia. The country recently stopped its civil war with half the country owned by one side and half the country by the other.

There was an election held over the whole country deemed free and fair by international observers. A candidate, Alassane Ouattara, won. The government led by Gbagbo unconstitutionally invalidated the results.

The international community should place sanctions on Gbagbo's government until it accepts the rule of his country's own law. The rule of law is fundamental to a prosperous and secure society. A prosperous and secure society can provide health care for its people. But will that happen? Will Westerners give a damn?

Offline Sure

Re: What's killing us?
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2010, 07:49:09 PM »
As I understand it the situation is more complicated. Not to mention that 'Westerners giving a damn' has the annoying tendency to become 'interventionism' when people stop liking it.

Regardless, fun fact I heard once but can't verify: More people kill themselves than kill others. In other words, the suicide rate is higher than the rates of murder, war, etc. combined.

Offline Oniya

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Re: What's killing us?
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2010, 07:54:39 PM »
As I understand it the situation is more complicated. Not to mention that 'Westerners giving a damn' has the annoying tendency to become 'interventionism' when people stop liking it.

Regardless, fun fact I heard once but can't verify: More people kill themselves than kill others. In other words, the suicide rate is higher than the rates of murder, war, etc. combined.

If you sort the list in the link mystic provided by 'Group', you get the following percentages:

G    Intentional injuries (Suicide, Violence, War, etc)    2.84%
G.1    Suicide    1.53%
G.2    Violence    0.98%
G.3    War    0.30%

These are estimates from the World Health Organization for 2002, but it bears out that observation.

Offline Serephino

Re: What's killing us?
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2010, 08:10:45 PM »
Yes, humans are very good at offing themselves.  It's not just people in poor underdeveloped countries that are dying of disease that's preventable.  Heart disease, diabetes, cancer...  Our modern world and laziness is actually killing us faster.  Obesity is killing people through disease at an astounding rate, and it's very preventable.  Then there's tobacco, pollution, and the chemicals in our food. 

Then there are the idiots that drive around here like morons.  Sometimes they're drunk.  Sometimes waiting for a red light takes too long (saw that tonight)  Sometimes they're going 90mph when there's an inch of ice on the road (I have seen this happen too).  But they kill themselves and others in car accidents.  There's a ditch on the side of the road where the turn into my town is, and every year after the first snow storm there's a car or two in it.  I honestly don't know what they were thinking.  Snow= slippery, I thought that was common sense, but apparently not...

Then there are the stupid stunts.  When shows like Jackass and Mythbusters air they need the disclaimer : 'don't try this at home'  because people actually will.  On Superman costumes there is a warning that the suit will not enable you to fly.  The frightening part is that the warning wouldn't be there unless someone had actually done it.   

Offline Oniya

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Re: What's killing us?
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2010, 08:30:39 PM »
To be fair, the Superman warning probably came about after a child tried to do it.  I've heard that in the 1950's TV show, George Reeves actually warned a child 'not to try to do anything Superman does - including flying'.

Now, the warnings on the Batman capes - That, I don't understand.

Offline mystictigerTopic starter

Re: What's killing us?
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2010, 10:54:10 PM »
Now, the warnings on the Batman capes - That, I don't understand.

That would come under 'Unintentional Injuries' I suspect. I didn't notice a 'cape' entry in the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents reports though :(

Offline Oniya

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Re: What's killing us?
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2010, 11:27:16 PM »
Erm - the point being that Superman can fly, ergo a warning that a Superman cape doesn't enable you to fly makes a certain amount of 'sense'.
Batman, however, cannot fly.

Offline mystictigerTopic starter

Re: What's killing us?
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2010, 11:29:07 PM »
I know, I know. I was just amused at the idea of the stupid warning notices they put on various things - peanuts that have a 'danger, may contain nuts' sign.

Offline Zakharra

Re: What's killing us?
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2010, 11:43:57 PM »
I know, I know. I was just amused at the idea of the stupid warning notices they put on various things - peanuts that have a 'danger, may contain nuts' sign.

 Those warning are there because people have sued the companies.

Offline Oniya

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Re: What's killing us?
« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2010, 11:48:49 PM »
The 'may contain nuts' on a packet that contains nothing but dry-roasted peanuts, though (as opposed to a candy bar, where the nuts are concealed, or may be unexpected) is one of those 'warnings' where you would hope anyone with eyes wouldn't need. 

When the label reads Planter's Peanuts, I bloody well hope that it contains nuts.  No one should need to be warned that it 'may' contain nuts, and no one who purchases it - or is even handed it - should have a cause to sue for lack of notification.

Offline mystictigerTopic starter

Re: What's killing us?
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2010, 12:11:43 AM »
This!

And sadly, the I'm reasonable sure that the story about Swedish chainsaws with a 'do not stop chain with hand or genitals' is also false.

Offline Asuras

Re: What's killing us?
« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2010, 11:26:32 PM »
Quote from: Sure
Not to mention that 'Westerners giving a damn' has the annoying tendency to become 'interventionism' when people stop liking it.

I'm all for letting the Ivory Coast (or any other country) elect someone we plain don't like. We can feel bad about that and let that be. But if 20 million people are being driven under the heel of dictatorship under someone they didn't elect (and possibly renewed civil war) then I think that that is cause for intervention.

Now to relate this back to the topic, in poor countries people die of treatable, preventable diseases at early ages because they lack proper sanitation and health care. These are foremost an effect of the economy - people don't often die of treatable, preventable diseases at early ages in developed countries because we have access to proper sanitation and health care. The main factor in a prosperous, equitable economy (and therefore a society that can get proper sanitation and health care) is good government. So even if a stolen election doesn't lead to a whole lot of gunshot victims in the grand scheme of things, corruption and stunted economic development will cause people to die years and decades earlier than they might have otherwise. And that effect will last decades and generations.

Offline NiceTexasGuy

Re: What's killing us?
« Reply #15 on: January 22, 2011, 03:40:54 PM »
Okay, I'm not trying to attack anyone specifically, because the desire to to utilize resources more effectively to improve the quality of life is always an admirable thing.  However, Sure's statement still sums up the problem.

It's usually the same people who demand (insert name of prosperous nation here) should do more to help protect the citizens of some other sovereign nation who are victims of a ruthless dictatorship who will just as quickly march on the capital to protest the government's policy of trying to "police the world" with shouts of "no blood for oil" after ousting a dictator who used chemical warfare against his own people.

A purely hypothetical situation, you understand, but the point I hope is made.

Likewise, the tendency of people to protest the presence of police in their neighborhood (just there to "harass" people minding their own business) are the same people who shout the loudest when the police failed to prevent the theft of their kid's bicycle left unattended in the driveway overnight.

Oh, and back to the original topic?

Bottom line is, people are going to eventually die of something.  I don't see the problem as a "rise" in incidences of cancer and heart disease.  Back when the average life expectancy was much much lower, people died of smallpox and cholera and infections from injuries before they had lived long enough to develop cancer or heart disease.

So, if tomorrow a "cure" for these conditions were developed, don't you think we might see a "rise" in the incidence of death from something else?  And people will scratch their heads and wonder why we're seeing more and more of it.

At least it will provide a filler for slow news days.

Offline Kaelhiar

Re: What's killing us?
« Reply #16 on: January 23, 2011, 01:03:20 AM »
Erm - the point being that Superman can fly, ergo a warning that a Superman cape doesn't enable you to fly makes a certain amount of 'sense'.
Batman, however, cannot fly.

True. But Batman has been known to leap off tall buildings and use a grappling thing to catch and swoop around like an impossible acrobat. Not to mention other wild stunts. So I imagine that's why they had to add that.

I'm still trying to figure out whether or not this warning note I saw on a curling iron was the result of a lawsuit: "Warning: This is not meant as a dildo." Just makes me cringe because... dear gods... did a woman try and... eeee.....

Offline Sure

Re: What's killing us?
« Reply #17 on: January 23, 2011, 05:30:08 PM »
I'm all for letting the Ivory Coast (or any other country) elect someone we plain don't like. We can feel bad about that and let that be. But if 20 million people are being driven under the heel of dictatorship under someone they didn't elect (and possibly renewed civil war) then I think that that is cause for intervention.

I'll do you one better: Iraq has thirty million people. After we defeated someone who was a dictator who the Iraqis didn't elect (Saddam) and possibly renewed a civil war (the Kurds), guess what it was? Interventionism.

Quote
Now to relate this back to the topic, in poor countries people die of treatable, preventable diseases at early ages because they lack proper sanitation and health care. These are foremost an effect of the economy - people don't often die of treatable, preventable diseases at early ages in developed countries because we have access to proper sanitation and health care. The main factor in a prosperous, equitable economy (and therefore a society that can get proper sanitation and health care) is good government. So even if a stolen election doesn't lead to a whole lot of gunshot victims in the grand scheme of things, corruption and stunted economic development will cause people to die years and decades earlier than they might have otherwise. And that effect will last decades and generations.

Agreed. Proper government, which would in turn lead to proper sanitation, health services, etc, would save many lives. If you find a way to get it to them, let the UN or whoever know, there's no shortage of money for it.

Offline Zakharra

Re: What's killing us?
« Reply #18 on: January 24, 2011, 11:18:53 AM »
 At the end of life though, something IS killing people. The longer more people live, the more the degenerative diseases like heart disease, diabetes, cancer and the like do pop up. Yes modern technology can cure those to a point but in the end you do die. Even of it's only from the body wearing out. 

 We all die of something.