#1 Fear of flying (Aerophobia).
Getting in a passenger aircraft and taking off leads the list of our fears, but is it warranted? Not really – estimates show that about 1,300 people die in plane crashes every year, but when you consider the hundreds of millions of people who fly, the odds are a relatively safe 11,000 to 1, which is much better than your chances on the roads!
Interestingly enough, about 95% of people who do suffer a plane crash (still extremely rare) actually survive!
#2 Fear of public speaking (Glossophobia).
Believe it or not, getting up in front of a group of people at school, work, or on stage is the second overall fear of human beings. Yet, to our knowledge, no one has ever died or suffered bodily harm just by having to speak in public!
#3 Fear of heights (Acrophobia).
While this is the third biggest fear people hold, the simple truth is that heights don’t ever hurt anyone – however, taking a step off them does. See “#23 Fear of Falling” below.
#4 Fear of the dark (Nyctophobia, Scotophobia, Lygophobia).
No matter how unsettling it is, the dark can’t hurt us.
#9 Fear of spiders (Arachnophobia).
Spiders have only killed about 100 people in the entire world over the last CENTURY! Worldwide, the Black Widow and Brown Recluse spiders – the most poisonous – only kill 6.5 people per year. But some people are susceptible to allergic reactions to the bites.
By the way, you’re way more likely to meet your end by a bee sting than a spider bite. In fact, you’re twice as likely to die of a bee sting than being attacked by a dog, at 1-in-100,000 odds.
It’s estimated that 15%-20% will suffer from phobias of some sort during our lives, an irrational and unwarranted fear that can be debilitating and affect the person’s quality of life, even if they never come in contact with it. And while some fear may be healthy, the list of fears and phobias we hold here in the United States is fascinating, yet doesn’t necessarily match up with the dangers in reality. For instance, about 25 million people have a severe fear of flying, even though all the data shows it’s still the safest form of travel.
So today we decided to go down the list of what scares people – their top ranked phobias and fears. We then cross-referenced the list of fears with the list of things that are most likely to kill you or cause you serious bodily harm.
Do they match up? Sometimes, they do, but we’ll see that mostly, what we’re scared of isn’t what we should be scared of!
It’s mind boggling that the fear of clowns ranks so highly! Unless you’re in a horror film or got in a fairground accident, clowns don’t hurt or kill anyone.#23 Fear of falling (Basophobia).
One of the most primal human fears is that of heights, or more accurately, falling from heights to your death. And no one can argue it’s not a health fear that keeps people off the edge of buildings or cliffs! But is it still statistically valid?
Overall, your odds of dying from a fall are very low – 9.6 per 100,000 people. But among certain populations, like seniors, injury-related falls are the leading cause of deaths, making it a 1-in-20 chance it will be your undoing. But accidental falls at the workplace do cause 14% of all workplace fatalities every year.
For the rest of us, it’s not all skyscrapers, rogue elevators, and bungee jumping accidents we should be scared of. In fact, each year, your odds are 2,300,000/1 of dying from falling off a ladder, and 2,000,000/1 of dying after falling out of bed.
#27 Fear of doctors (Iatrophobia).
Doctors only help you, not hurt you, right? Wrong. In fact, bad hospital care contributes to the deaths of 180,000 patients in Medicare alone in a given year! The total could easily be a quarter million people or more. Add to that the 100,000 people who die every year from legal prescription drugs, and incredibly, medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in America, behind heart disease and cancer.
#33 Thunder (Brontophobia).
Thunder can’t hurt you – but it sure still scares us. More accurately we should be mildly concerned with lightning strikes, which electrocute about 250,000 people annually, making your chance of being killed by lightning 1-in-83,930.
But even if there aren’t bolts from the sky, your chance of perishing in a tornado is 1-in-60,000, earthquake 1-in-131,890, and natural disasters in general, 1-in-3,357.
This fear may be valid, at least as it instills caution and safety in drivers, not irrationally preventing people from getting behind the wheel. Every year, about 50,000 people die in road accidents in the U.S. alone, and every day, 3,000 drivers or passengers perish worldwide. That sets our odds at about 8,000 to 1, or 100 to 1 if you do get in an accident. But more surprisingly, the odds of being killed as a pedestrian, cyclist, or motorcyclist are surprisingly high.#13 Fear of dogs.
Each year, more than 350,000 dog bite victims are seen in emergency rooms, and approximately 850,000 victims receive medical attention. Shockingly, half of all children 12 years-of-age and under have been bitten by a dog. Add it all up, and your chances of dying from a dog bite are around 1-in-147,717.
#15 Fear of snakes (Aphiophobia).
Your odds of dying from a snakebite are small, about 3,500,000/1. Still, snakebites do kill 25,000 people a year, though about half of those are in India, and the majority in similar tropical, developing countries.
#18 Fear of water (Aquaphobia, Hydrophobia).
There are several different forms of fear of water, but drowning is a relevant danger among those who swim or play in any body of water. According to the World Health Organization, drowning is the 3rd leading cause of unintentional death worldwide, at 1-in-500,000. But the crazy thing is that more people drown right in their bathtubs than public swimming pools every year.
Statistically speaking, it’s highly unlikely that a plane crash, natural disaster, or spider, snake, or shark will end your days. So what are the things we should be scared of, that should replace the fear of public speaking, clowns, and the dark on the list of phobias?Heart Disease:
Heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the entire world. In fact, out of all the causes of death, you have a 1-in-5 chance that it will be heart disease. So we SHOULD have a phobia of large pizzas and french fries.
The “Big C” is still a leading cause of death, unfortunately, with a 1-in-7 chance of passing due to cancer.
Really? A terrible reality is that every 40 seconds, someone commits suicide, making your chance of death by this method 1-in-121.
Your chances of dying from a gunshot wound are 1-in-325, which is alarmingly high.
Most deaths by fires are actually due to smoke inhalation, and you have a 1-in-1,116 chance of meeting your end this way.
While we’re on the morbid topic, what are the odds of you passing due to some other obscure way?
Every year, about 10,000 people are admitted into emergency rooms in the U.S. due to firework-related injuries – and most of that revolves around just one day! Your chance of death by fireworks is 1-in-615,488.
Unless you’re a lucky surfer who fights off a shark attack and escapes, the chances are extremely unlikely you’ll get bitten. All across the world, only about 40 people die from shark attacks each year, which sets your odds at 300,000-to-1.
Another demise with 300,000-to-1 odds is due to a fairground accident, like a roller coaster that goes of its tracks.
So how can we put the odds of dying by a fairground accident or shark attack in perspective? You’re more likely – set at 250,000-to-1 – of dying from falling a coconut hitting you in the head, which happens to about 150 people around the world every year.
Our fear of terrorism is profound, and all safety measures are welcomed, but is our fear consistent with the danger? The odds of dying from a terrorist attack are still a miniscule 9,300,000-to-1.