I just had to repost from the Deep Sea News blog, which points out an alarming 300% increase in the number of shark attacks in the last year in a particular town in Mexico:

Aren’t statistics wonderful things? That’s why when you read something in the medical news about “50% fewer heart attacks” or some such due to XYZ drug, your first question should be “but what was the number to begin with”?

In this case, a 300% increase means 3 attacks instead of one. That’s hardly a statistically robust difference. But the local papers surmised that Sharks are hunting humans. Blogger CR McLain writes in Deep Sea News:

Thankfully the Mexican Navy has been called on to track down and kill these death wielding beasts.

PLEASE PEOPLE! Although tragic, three attacks and two deaths is not extraordinary that searching for pattern or cause is necessary. You don’t see people freaking out about pigeon related deaths. An increase of one to three is hardly a pattern. In four tosses of a penny this morning I just got 1 head and 3 tails…it happens. The fact that the media is in a frenzy combined with Mexico actually spending money on searching for causes and using sophisticated Naval ships to exterminate the sharks is nothing short of absurd. Let’s get a bit of perspective…

Americans killed by guns in the U.S. each year: 30,000

Americans killed by tobacco in the U.S. each year: 418,000

Americans killed after being struck by police Tasers in 2004: 40

U.S. murder rate: 5.9 per 100,000

U.S. traffic fatalities each year: 39,000

People injured/killed by lightning each year in the U.S.: Struck: 700, Killed: 70

Deaths from obesity per year in the USA: 112,000

I will take a shark any day over a Twinkie, lighting strike, the flu, a tsunami, Taser, cigarette, hand gun, war, or a car any day.