The Law of Large Numbers

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I was listening to an interview this evening on my favorite radio show, The Dave Glover Show. Thank God for streaming radio stations!
Tonight’s interview guest was a scientist who serves as the editor for Skeptic magazine:

There was a quick question about the tragedy that happened at Virginia Tech today. The editor/scientist put it into context by talking about the law of large numbers. It’s a known fact that approx. 2% of society is psychopathic or sociopathic. Therefore, as our population booms exponentially, the actual numbers represented by the psychopaths and sociopaths also increases. After all, 2% of 100 million is a lot more than 2% of 10 million. And with the population of the good ol’ U.S. of A. at an all time high and climbing, that just means there are that many more crazies amongst us.
I had this discussion over the law of large numbers a few years ago, though I’d never heard it called by that name. This person, a Missouri State Highway Patrol officer, stated that since there are more cars on the road every year than every previous year, our total number of DWI fatalities should increase with the number of hwy. miles driven. The number has held fairly steady, which means the percentage has dropped. Thus, we’re able to deduce that DWI fatalities, while they may be on the rise, are actually less than they have been in the past(if you want more deets on this, just ask…right now, it’s quick and dirty to make a point).
Thus, how do we get around this issue? Well, we either stop reproducing at such a rate(this gets my vote) or we continue to live our lives as we do with the threat of terrorism-like we will not let the stats bother us. I mean, if we’re paralyzed by the fear that the guy in the car next to us has a loaded gun and sociopathic tendencies, well, do you alter when, where and why you drive? I hope not-that is living one’s life in fear. And that is something I refuse to do.
Sympathy from Engel’s Ensights to all those involved with the killings today in VA. For everyone else, keep the prayers and positive energies flowing to the Commonwealth-they can probably use it.

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  • Susabelle

    Like you, I refuse to live my life in fear. My ex-husband suffers from depression, anxiety, and psychotic episodes, and now Post Traumatic Stress Disorder since a horrifying dump truck accident two years ago. He is probably borderline personality or borderline psychotic disorder as well. I stay as clear of him as I can. Because we have children, there is always some form of contact but it is regulated by a pretty stiff court order.

    However, about two weeks ago he tried to kill himself and has been spiraling out of control. I do fear that he will either come for me (as I am, of course, the root of all his problems, you know), or do himself in in a spectacular sort of way.

    But I don’t live in fear, always looking over my shoulder and worried that he’s waiting behind every tree, because I would be losing much of my life and happiness if I did. But the fear is always there.

    What happened at VT is horrifying and was virtually unpreventable, because we live in a free country and attempt to live fear-free. My heart goes out to all the victims of this terrible incident.

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