Monday, January 23, 2006

Statistically insignificant

In a recent comment about the increasing difficulty of standing out from the crowd, R. Brett Stirling recalls Milan Kundera writing that
"in Socrates day he was maybe 1/250,000th of the population, Lincoln: 1/1,000,000,000th. Each of us? 1/6,200,000,000th."
So here are some more sad statistics that have jumped out at me recently reflecting the unbearable lightness of our being.
The chances are that you will have eight great-children. Of those eight great-grandchildren only two will remember your name. I learned this in an excerpt from The Human Body that I use with students of medicine. They don't find it as depressing as I do. (We learned from the same excerpt that I can except to shed 19 kilos of dead skin during my lifetime. Now that gets a reaction)
And here, for balance, is another statistic confirming, this time, the inevitable heaviness of our (or at least my) being. In a chapter from Atul Gawande's book Complications that I had chosen to study in class today, I stopped at the following piece of information: a review of decades of diet studies
"found that between 90 and 95% of people regained one-third to two-thirds of the weight they'd lost within a year — and all of it within five years."
Again, my class of skinny 19-year-olds weren't as disheartened by that information as I was.


Addy said...

I really enjoyed reading that, though now I'm a little depressed and weirded out. I enjoyed it none the less.
I'd like to add you as a link on my blog if thats ok with you.
Maybe you should visit my blog first to decide if I'm the kind of person you want you blog to be associated with!
Just leave a comment on my blog giving me your blessings (or not)

BeefKing said...

OK here's one: Each of us is 1 in 6.2 billion, eh? And every one of those billions will die. Generously supposing that 99% of those people won't reach the age 100, then there will be, on average, 6.138 million deaths per year for the next century. That's just over 168,000 deaths per day for a hundred years.

Seems to me we better get used to creamating people. There's not gonna be anywhere left to put 'em, er, us.

heather said...

when we're lucky enough to have a sunny morning, it tends to highlight dust patches that are so vast that I suspect I lost my 19kilos of skin all at once.

LĂ©ons Life said...

found that between 90 and 95% of people regained one-third to two-thirds of the weight they'd lost within a year — and all of it within five years."

Do you mean that I starved myself and threw out all my fat clothes, when I will be needing them by 2010 !!!! Why didn't you say before.

BeefKing said...

Here's another statistic from today's New York Times:

McDonald's is more profitable in France than anywhere else in Europe. Sales have increased 42 percent over the past five years. Some 1.2 million French, or 2 percent of the population, eat there every day.

Every day!? No wonder those pounds and kilos seem to keep coming back every five years. And to think I moved here for the food!

Lesley said...

Beefking: The logical next step is for MacDo to move into the cremation business (Slogan, "Fill 'em, Kill 'em & Grill 'Em")and Steve Jobs could become MD, he seems to be on the board of everything else. I'm thinking TV series to replace 6FT Under here.

Pauline, Ah, yes but it doesn't say anything about poeple who lose weight and also take exercise, like you.

Heather : I also learned that in an average lifetime we grow 2m of hair up our noses. Do you think that could happen all of a sudden too?