Causes of Wealth: Reality vs. News Coverage

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Our World in Data has a very in-depth page on Causes of Death from around the world. Then they asked: Does the news reflect what we die from? What if they compared what we read in the news and the raw data? Here is a chart that compares actual death stats against Google search data and the mentions of causes of death in both the New York Times and The Guardian newspapers (click to enlarge):

Two-thirds of us will die from either heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or kidney disease. Meanwhile, over 70% of the causes of death you’ll read about in the news are either murder, suicide, or terrorism.

What about the disconnect between reality and what we read in the news about becoming wealthy? Here’s my quick take using a Google Spreadsheet (obviously not exact or based on actual data):

Most people probably realize that the news does not exactly reflect the real world. However, we can still unconsciously develop a “bias for single events”, even with financial topics. There’s also “social media bias” where what you see is only the highly-edited positive clips of their life. You see their #bestlife, but what you don’t see are their credit card debt, the downpayment from the Bank of Mom and Dad, or anxiety attacks about money.

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Comments

  1. Keyzer Soze says:

    Your top 3 actual causes of wealth can indeed be summed up as the media coverage cause Bitcoin. Take an asymmetric risk, get lucky and stay the course. That’s basically everyone who got wealthy on bitcoin.

    • That is an interesting observation! I think the key is that with all the media coverage and the rise in value, the risk is no longer nearly as asymmetric. Instead of people in their basements with some graphics cards, you have entire publicly-traded companies that mine BTC.

  2. On the causes of death, I get it, but at the same time, we’re all going to die.
    Death before the age of 80 is more ‘newsworthy/interesting’, both because it’s more preventable and more unusual.
    The News media and google ought to have more attention on the preventable causes of death (car accidents, overdoses, suicide, etc.). The terrorism thing is crazy of course.

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