The Norm Chronicles - Stories and Numbers about Danger

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Follow Norm through a distinctly average life of risk
and explore his world to find out more…

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Birth

Meet Norm. He’s pretty average. This is his life.

Norm is born. High Risk!!!

We are more likely to die before 1 year old than during any other year until our mid-50s.
Risk of death before 1 year = risk from riding 30,000 miles on a motorbike.

Hospital vs. Home birth

Home births are as safe in the UK as hospital births (because home births are more common among higher socio-economic groups, and risky first labours rarely happen at home).

Childhood

Walking alone

In 1971, being allowed to walk to the shops alone began around 7 years old. By 1990, this had increased to 10 years. Not being outdoors can lead to vitamin D deficiency — childhood rickets has returned.

Walking to School

A worry for many parents. However, the risk of death is less than 1/365 of the average daily risk of sudden death for a UK adult. Children under 15 are far less likely to die in a transport accident than any other age group. In fact, more children die from accidental strangulation (often accidents involving looped window-blind cords) than as pedestrians.

11 years

At the age of 11, danger isn’t a choice – it’s a game with rules!

Teenager

Norm gets a girlfriend!

Sex

Chances of getting pregnant through unprotected sex is 15-30% per cycle.

Teen pregnancy rates are higher in seaside towns (1 in 16 teenaged girls for Blackpool versus 1 in 67 for Windsor).

Young Adulthood

Drugs

Norm tries Ecstasy. Professor David Nutt famously argued that this is as risky as horse-riding (1 serious adverse experience in 350).

1 in 3 adults have used illegal drugs in their lifetime.

Extreme sports

For every 25 people who reach the summit of Everest, 1 person dies. Base-jumping is extremely risky but it depends where you jump from: Kjerag Massif in Norway is a safer option, with 1 death per 2300 jumps.

Middle Age

Average man:

Norm is average. He earns £28,270, is 5’9”, weighs 13 stone, works 39 hours per week, is a married parent, and drives a Ford Fiesta.

Smoking:

It’s as if every 2 cigarettes take a half hour off your life expectancy. But! If you stop smoking at 40, you add 9 years to your life expectancy.

Exercise:

The first 20 minutes per day essentially adds an hour to your life expectancy – but this is cancelled out by binge eating/drinking.

Drinking:

1 alcoholic drink is good for you. 3 drinks cancel each other out. More than 3 drinks do you harm.

Luck & Money

Norm works out that buying £14 million worth of tickets in every possible permutation means a definite win (but he neglects to account for a split jackpot!).

2 of every 30 million people who buy lottery tickets will die within a few minutes of leaving the shop!

Getting On

Trains

Norm gets his senior rail pass. Trains are extraordinarily safe.

There were no fatalities in rail accidents for on-board passengers
in the UK in 2011 or in the preceding 4 years.

Old Age

Death

Redundancy

Norm is made unexpectedly redundant, a victim of the recession. Risk of redundancy during recession only increased by 0.2% but risk of staying unemployed doubled.


Fear of freak events

Risk of violent crime for a man aged 65+ is less than 10% of that of a man in his early 20s. Being killed because of an asteroid is extremely unlikely (once in 77,000,000 years) as humans don’t inhabit much of the earth, and most asteroids land in the middle of nowhere.

Pensioners

1 in 6 pensioner households lives in poverty.

1 in 2 pensioner’s care costs will be £20k,
but for 1 in 10 the bill will be £100k+.

Certainty

The most certain risk of all – 100% risk of death. So enjoy life while you’re living it!

Men live on average to 79, women to 83. Boys born today are expected to live to 90 and girls to 94. But does a long life mean a good life?

Norm’s just the average guy, looking for a safe path through life. Read the book and meet his friends: careful Prudence, scared of her own shadow, and the Kevlin brothers, risk-junkies who would tell you where to shove your statistics.

Which one are you –
and whose life is really at risk?

Download an extract from THE NORM CHRONICLES, a brilliantly mad and highly addictive book packed with numbers and stories from the masters of risk, Michael Blastland and Professor David Spiegelhalter.

Credits

Website by Nice & Serious – Site illustration by Sinem Erkas – Jacket illustration by Adam Simpson at Heart Agency

The Norm Chronicles by Michael Blastland & David Spiegelhalter is published by Profile Books

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