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Death by Coconut

Entry 741, on 2008-04-12 at 22:27:58 (Rating 1, News)

Recently I came across an interesting statistic in two different independent places: first on a skeptical podcast, and then in the New Zealand Herald newspaper. The statistic involved the relative danger involved with sharks and coconuts. Yes, that's right, the question is which is more dangerous: a shark, or a coconut?

Of course it depends on how you interpret the question. If I had the choice between a close encounter with a shark and a coconut I would probably choose the coconut. But the statistics indicate more people are killed by coconuts than sharks each year. The numbers normally quoted are 15 deaths caused by sharks and 150 by coconuts.

Coconuts fall from great heights (trees can be about 20 meters high) and when they impact someone's head they can impart a force equal to a tonne, which is often fatal. The problem is that coconut deaths aren't well recorded so the figure of 150 is extrapolated from a few cases where the events have been recorded.

So although the coconut death toll is not well supported by hard statistics its still reasonable to say that coconuts are actually more hazardous than sharks for the world as a whole. Weird but true!


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