People have always been fascinated with death, and for good reason. Despite the massive breadth of experiences that one can accumulate over a lifetime on Earth, our final disposition after we exhale our last breath remains a unique kind of mystery: one we will all eventually solve, but can never relay to others. Death represents a number of things: an end for some, a beginning to others, and in a biological sense, it serves as the extreme end of the spectrum of tolerable human injury. To die is to get hurt in the most significant sense, and because we’re genetically hard-wired to avoid both, our minds sometimes have trouble differentiating between the two.

What follows is a short list of things we tend to think of as “deadly” that are, statistically speaking, pretty unlikely to kill you. Some of these misconceptions are born of our evolution based drive to avoid that which slithers or crawls, others are born of TV and movie tropes, but what they have in common is a generally accepted exaggeration of the threat they pose to your life or well being. It’s important to note, however, that these things are still dangerous, they’re just not nearly as dangerous (particularly in regard to loss of life) as we tend to think of them as.

So if you’re the type of person that likes to be prepared for any and all life-or-death situations, you may not want to completely ignore the following, but you can certainly put them lowers on your priority list than popular culture might have you believe.

Ebola Virus | Wikimedia Commons

If you live in America, you have little to fear from Ebola.

News of Ebola outbreaks in Africa in recent years have renewed fears among Americans about the possibility of global pandemics. The idea that a deadly virus could spread throughout the world’s population quickly thanks to modern air travel is a legitimate one that healthcare professionals strive to find ways to counter everyday, but this concern (and the appropriate abundance of caution when dealing with Ebola outbreaks in underdeveloped nations) tend to make people more fearful of the Ebola virus than statistics seem to warrant.

There is already an experimental Ebola vaccine that has seen great success in helping to prevent the spread of the virus in affected nations, and, horrible as it may sound, Ebola’s rapid incubation rate often ensures that those who are infected display visible symptoms early (allowing for some level of prevention when it comes to world travel) and tend to either die or recover (and develop antibodies) rather quickly. Because of the virus’ short lifespan, those infected tend to die or beat the virus before they have the opportunity to spread it very far. In short, Ebola is so dangerous to those infected that it often doesn’t allow for a great deal of dispersion. Because it has to be spread via fluid transmission, it also makes Ebola fairly easy to protect yourself against, unlike airborne pathogens.

Although that have been a number of Americans infected with Ebola over the years, most often as a result of work in underdeveloped nations, only two Americans have died of the illness after receiving treatment in the United States.


All you need to survive a venomous snake bite is a trip to the hospital.