I recently got my first mention in the New York Times, about which people are either impressed or suspicious
Okay, I wasn’t actually mentioned by name. The article, headlined “Hurt at Home, and a Fall Is Likely to Blame” revealed that the most common cause of injury to Americans is falling down, with most of those falls happening at home.
I’d fallen just the day before, though not technically at home, tripping on something that wasn’t there while walking the dog. Somehow I managed to stab one shoe awkwardly into the sidewalk where it caught, sending me tumbling. It must’ve looked bad, because a passing car stopped to see if Gramps was okay. Pride aside, he was fine, though he’d ruined his jeans, and for the first time in 52 years skinned an elbow and knee. As my dog vacillated between concern and embarrassment, I picked myself up and waved off the driver, making it the rest of the way home without incident, only to find out the next day that I’d accidentally stumbled into the statistical mainstream.
In case you’re curious, transportation injuries were in second place, followed by accidental poisoning, which raised a red flag for me. It seems likely that a substantial number of those poisoned also fall down at some point, with more than a few winding up in traffic accidents while rushing to the emergency room. Are these incidents counted in one or multiple categories?
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The article noted that women are more likely to be injured in falls than men, whereas men are more likely to be struck by objects. How many of those women were pushed by men, and how many of those objects were thrown by women, and in which order, are questions that apparently escaped scrutiny.
That’s the problem with statistics. Numbers can be accurate without offering insight into what they actually measure. Gun control advocates harp on the disproportionate number of gun-related deaths in our society, but they make no attempt to quantify how many lives may have been saved by firearms.
Nor do they mention that 60% of gun deaths in America are suicides. You’d think that would be a comforting statistic, as it indicates that the number of gun owners predisposed to using their weapons is to some extent self-limiting.
It also calls into question the idea of restricting ownership of the most lethal weapons and ammunition, if only for the sake of holding down the substantial cost of caring for all the failed suicide victims and other survivors of gun violence. Say what you want, but when it comes to medical bills a killer bullet is an efficient bullet. It’s the wounded who are bleeding the healthcare system dry.
As for the epidemic of slips, trips, tumbles, dives, plunges, and toppling-overs, my suggestion is to stay in bed whenever possible. It may not be the magic bullet, but you don’t need a statistician to tell you that the best way to avoid falling down is not to get up.
Chris Bliss is a comedian, juggler and activist living in Austin, Texas