Jach's personal blog

(Largely containing a mind-dump to myselves: past, present, and future)
Current favorite quote: "Supposedly smart people are weirdly ignorant of Bayes' Rule." William B Vogt, 2010

Dropping like flies

This was a debate with a housemate, my assertion is that the "greats" of famous people, or in general "important people", have started to drop like flies at an increasing rate over the past couple of years, and that this decade is going to be a bloodbath. So here is some research using Wiki's lists, where an "important person" who has died is defined as a person I determine at this moment to have been great or important.

For an adequate sample, let's start in 2006. The greats who died during that year are: Steve Irwin (September, not old (i.e. younger than 60)), Rob Levin (September, not old).

2007: None.

2008: Bobby Fischer (January), Gordon B. Hinckley (January), Arthur C. Clarke (March), George Carlin (June), Bernie Mac (August, not old).

2009: Michael Jackson (June, not old), Erik Naggum (June, not old).

2010: Benoit Mandelbrot (October), Leslie Nielsen (November).

2011: Brian Jacques (February), Paul Baran (March), Jeff Fox (May, not Wiki'd), Osama bin Laden (May, not old), Robert Ettinger (July, may be reanimated in the future), Michael S. Hart (September), Steve Jobs (October, not old), Dennis Ritchie (October), Muammar Gaddafi (October), John McCarthy (October), my grandma (November, not Wiki'd), Christopher Hitchens (December), Kim Jong-il (December).

2012: Nicolaas Govert de Bruijn (February), Ray Bradbury (June), Neil Armstrong (August).

Did I miss some people? Definitely. (Especially in 2003.) But it's a decent enough sample for my purposes.

So, I concede defeat on the assertion that the deaths seem to be accelerating, though I still think this decade is going to be particularly bloody. 2011 was particularly bloody (though 2012 isn't over yet!), so it's likely the Availability Bias that led to my earlier belief. I formally change my mind, but I will change it back if the coming months are particularly bloody.

Posted on 2012-08-27 by Jach

Tags: debate, silly


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