Shark attack in Cancun?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Q: What is more likely to kill you?

  • A shark attack
  • Running into a deer with your car

You might have guessed the correct answer: a deer.

But do you have any idea how much greater is the risk?

That's a bit harder, isn't it?

I won't keep you in the dark. You are 300 times more likely to get killed by a deer smashing into your car than by a shark.

Shark diving at Playa del Carmen

300 times, that's quite a lot!


Well, I can think of some reasons people think the risk of a shark attack is higher:

  • a higher number of shark attacks does not necessarily mean a shark is more likely to attack today than 20 years ago. It simply means there are more people in the ocean, we are actually inviting them to attack by invading their territory!

  • a shark is more newsworthy than a deer. Compare someone smashing his or her car into Bambi with a swimmer being attacked by a bloodthirsty predator with zero likeability.

Did you know 'shark' is actually a Mayan word? It comes from xook meaning 'tiburon' or 'shark'. One of the first known kings of Tikal was called Yax Ehb' Xook, the first ? shark.

So when someone gets wounded or killed by a shark it immediately becomes headline news. This is the kind of news that sells newspapers and magazines because it thrives on emotion.

But what if it isn't true?

According to my stats people keep looking for information on the recent "shark attack in Cancun". This was almost two months ago, wasn't even true but the "news" has travelled the world like a virus (wish that would happen to my website!).

If you want to know what really happened, read my comment here.

Meanwhile, better avoid dark roads!