Cause of Death - Reality vs. Google vs. Media [OC]

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17 Apr 2018 21:20 - +8703
It's interesting to see that people universally understand that cancer is a problem, but we don't put as much focus on things like heart disease. Possibly because we feel it's often just caused by age or bad decisions whereas cancer can just happen to anyone?
17 Apr 2018 21:21 - +8031
This is awesome, but it would be great to see these three barplots alongside each other rather than animated.   Edit: My top comment on Reddit is about stacked barplots. My boss would be so proud.   Edit2: Thank you for the gold kind stranger!
17 Apr 2018 21:33 - +1070
Hmm, looks like cancer and stroke are^(somewhat) fairly represented across the mediums. But heart disease is 30% of all causes of death? Damn. I had no idea. As a 20-something, I tend not to think too much about causes of death. This really puts things in perspective.
17 Apr 2018 21:03 - +983
**One of the people involved in the original report/data collection is u/owenshen24, and they will [answer your questions here!](** --- Static charts: * Album with the three primary stacked bar charts [shown separately]( * Single image with the three charts [side by side]( * Side by side with connecting lines by u/onlyforthisair in [MS Paint]( Source code: [GitHub (Python 3.6, numpy, pandas, matplotlib, imageio)]( Data: [Aggregated by Owen Shen, et al. from CDC, Google, The Guardian, & New York Times]( --- This animation shows the percentage share of top causes averaged from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (1999-2016), Google search trends (2004-2016), and headlines from the Guardian and New York Times (2004-2016). The data was collected by Hasan Al-Jamaly, Maximillian Siemers, Owen Shen, and Nicole Stone for their [in-depth write up here]( All credit for the data goes to them. This chart is sorted using the CDC data. The categories stay in that ordering through the charts while the sizes of each category change. Drug overdoses is the unlabelled category between suicide and homicide. I started sharing data visualization, machine learning, and GIS stuff on [Twitter if you're into that]( --- Note: **"car accidents"** in this chart likely should be just **"accidents"** as pointed out by u/mygotaccount >In 2015, the CDC reports that there were 43.2/733.1 deaths due to unintentional injuries or 5.89%, but motor-vehicle related injuries, which are a subset of that, are 1.55%. For comparison, poisoning which also falls under unintentional injuries is 2.01%. Your source for the data lists car accidents as 6.1% (possible rounding error). They have most likely misconstrued all accidents for car accidents. Note on changing the term "car accidents" to the more appropriate "car crashes" by u/nattopan: > While this has been standard nomenclature for decades, recent efforts to reduce the number of traffic-related fatalities have resulted in a shift from "car accidents" to "car crashes." [You can read more about the "crash not accident" movement here]( To be even more accurate when speaking to what was formally known as "car accidents," it is best to use "traffic crashes" or "traffic fatalities," as these terms acknowledge other modes of transportation such as motorcycles, bikes, public transportation, etc. Pedestrian deaths in particular have been skyrocketing in recent years, and it is critical that we include this category in our discussion of traffic fatalities if we are to reverse this trend.
17 Apr 2018 21:22 - +638
While the animation does a nice job of emphasizing that there is a large difference between the 3 cases, it makes it incredibly difficult to actually draw any information from the set. I find myself focusing on one cause of death, then attempting to memorize the rough percentages for all 3 cases. That is to say, if you want the viewer's takeaway to be "these 3 distributions are very different", great job. If you want the viewer to actually remember any of the numbers, it's very difficult in the format.
17 Apr 2018 21:22 - +412
What can I say, fear sells. Saying your worst enemy is Mickie D's will not sell anything, which is sad.
17 Apr 2018 21:32 - +370
Murders and terrorism get more attention from the media because they are more shocking to the public than heart disease and cancer.
17 Apr 2018 21:47 - +245
People are so bad at statistics, and the media really doesn't help. As a liberal gun-rights supporter, my own experience with this is in those homicide and suicide bars. [538 did a great article on gun deaths]( with a really good visualization. If you watch the news or read reddit, you'll think that almost every person killed by a gun is with an assault rifle, usually a black, military-looking AR-15 with a big magazine/"clip". In reality, however, "only" something like 1000 people are killed with rifles of any kind each year, while about 8000 are killed with handguns (and another 1000 with shotguns). And most, as in the majority, of those are young black men. That is almost *never* on the news, compared to how often mass shootings are. More people are actually beaten to death with fists and feet than are killed with rifles, even including all the mass shootings. And then there are about 20000 suicides with guns, about *double* the number of homicides with guns, and the majority of those are actually middle-age and older white men, another thing that isn't on the news very much. Edit: To be clear, this post is about the numbers, and only the numbers. I'm not saying anything about what we should do about gun deaths, this is about the numbers and statistics only, since this is a data subreddit and it's directly applicable to what the OP made.
17 Apr 2018 21:35 - +216
You can easily see in the first graph how if we suddenly cured all disease, the vast majority of us would die on the road.
17 Apr 2018 21:36 - +157
I think it's a bit misleading. The news discusses homicide and terrorism more than cancer or heart disease entirely *because* it's uncommon. That's part of what makes it newsworthy. People don't report on every heart attack.
17 Apr 2018 21:29 - +103
Heart disease is probably the most preventable but people don’t want to hear that someone died of too much food
17 Apr 2018 21:31 - +76
If you normalized it to remove all people over 65 how would it change? I accept that cancer and heart disease kill lots of people, but when people die after a full life it's a lot less sad than a 40 year old victim of a DUI or a 20 year old dead from gang violence.
17 Apr 2018 21:54 - +45
From Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now (/u/thisisbillgates's [favorite book of all time]( > Though terrorism poses a minuscule danger compared with other risks, it creates outsize panic and hysteria because that is what it is designed to do. Modern terrorism is a by-product of the vast reach of the media. A group or an individual seeks a slice of the world's attention by the one guaranteed means of attracting it: killing innocent people, especially in circumstances in which readers of the news can imagine themselves. News media gobble the bait and give the atrocities saturation coverage. The Availability heuristic kicks in and people become stricken with a fear that is unrelated to the level of danger.
17 Apr 2018 21:47 - +44
There is a dark tinted bar between Suicide and Homicide that remains unlabeled through the whole animation (and even disappears in the media graphic). Which cause of death is this?
17 Apr 2018 22:14 - +22
Hey Reddit, I'm one of the original people behind scraping the data + the original visualizations! It's insane to see this hit the front page! I'm happy to answer any questions people have about the data / process behind this!
17 Apr 2018 21:22 - +16
It’d be interesting if the bars were split vertically into age groupings. Maybe wouldn’t work for the media one, but it’d be an nice extra layer for the other two. Still a very neat visualisation!
17 Apr 2018 22:23 - +7
The %'s made me interested in the actual number of deaths. I'm really shocked by that number of accidental deaths. Heart disease: 633,842 Cancer: 595,930 Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 155,041 Accidents (unintentional injuries): 146,571 Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 140,323 Alzheimer’s disease: 110,561 Diabetes: 79,535 Influenza and Pneumonia: 57,062 Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis: 49,959 Intentional self-harm (suicide): 44,193 [Source](
18 Apr 2018 00:05 - +6
I don't think this implies a skewed reality, simply that normal causes of death are not news worthy and only people who are suffering from these diseases or have a relative who is are likely to Google them.
17 Apr 2018 21:28 - +6
This is interesting, but its hard to read the data when it's animated. Next time just upload three different photos. Makes it easier for everyone.
17 Apr 2018 21:55 - +6
So interesting that heart disease is such a large cause of death and yet there is so little attention paid to it.
17 Apr 2018 22:46 - +6
OK, kids: journalism is a discipline with rules! One of those rules is called the "Six Criteria of Newsworthiness"! Please Google. These are the things that people want to read about and the order with which any journalist will place a story in terms of importance on any given day. Note the "timely" criteria, which is the one most likely to influence these results since it depends on how often something happens. Not much new happens with cancer. The more timely news there is about cancer, the more likely it is to receive coverage. Compare to terrorism, which has frequent new developments. So terrorism gets more headlines by default than cancer. Cancer is always killing and you only really talk about it when it impacts people in a new way, maybe from the perspective of "prominence", like when a celebrity gets it. Or if there's a cure developed that has both impact and timeliness. Terrorism is shocking and new by its very nature. If we had a sudden burst of explosive cancer, it would receive so much coverage you wouldn't even know what to do about it. It'd drive you crazy.
18 Apr 2018 01:30 - +5
This is an excellent visualisation of something that drives me nuts, the common misunderstanding of actual risk vs. perceived risk. Thanks for making this. I think there's a major cause of death - possibly the third leading cause - that's missing from this, though, and that also gets virtually no media attention even though it's something that could be preventable with more awareness and effort: [medical error]( The CDC apparently doesn't track it, which is why it doesn't show up here, but it's a huge issue.
18 Apr 2018 01:20 - +5
If only the rage and passion that went in to things like gun control and terrorism would instead be focused on health and fitness. We'd make substantial headway into reducing the main causes of death, increase health and happiness, and reduce healthcare costs. But that doesn't make for good theater in the media.
17 Apr 2018 21:35 - +1
Thank you for your Original Content, /u/aaronpenne! I've added [your flair]( as gratitude. **Here is some important information about this post:** * [Author's citations]( for this thread * [All OC posts by this author]("aaronpenne"+title%3A[OC]&sort=new&restrict_sr=on) I hope this sticky assists you in having an informed discussion in this thread, or inspires you to [remix]( this data. For more information, please [read this Wiki page](

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