Thursday, October 6, 2011

Are dead celebrities 154,000 more important than you?

This morning a great number of my friends on Facebook were posting about the death of entrepreneur Steve Jobs. I am always quite surprised to see people responding to the deaths of famous strangers: individuals my friends have never met or interacted with.

So out of curiosity I went to the CIA World Factbook to get some kind of context for this one death.

Their July estimate for total world population is 6,928,198,253, with an annual death rate of 8.12 deaths/1,000 population. That means that around 56,256,970 people would die in a year, or around 154,129 people every day.

So are famous strangers 154,000 times more important than the average person, that they merit a mention in informal Facebook obituaries? Well perhaps: one might feel that certain great people really do have disproportionate influence. Interesting, though, to be able to put an actual number to it.

2 comments:

  1. Some people are more important to society than most because of what they do, be it good or bad. People love Apple so they loved Jobs. I'm writing on an amazing machine that he probably gave the final okay to, if he was not a fundamental part of its design. Is it really a surprise that people who have experienced the efficiency, power, intuitiveness and sheer coolness of Apple reflect for a day or a week or a month on the man that epitomized the brilliance of this company? The world has lost a great innovator has it not? In fairness he's not just any old celebrity either. I mean we're not talking about some vacuous specimen like Ashton Kutcher are we?

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  2. Oh yes, fair enough Dave. I have never felt any excitement over the deaths of innovators, authors, musicians, etc. that I've never met so it always seemed odd to me.

    Each to their own, of course. Plus, maybe if Ashton Kutcher dies I'll crash Facebook with my laments :P

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