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Matt Rosenberg

Why Are You Not Dead Yet?

By September 21, 2013

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Slate published a fascinating piece about the increase in life expectancy over the past 150 years. The author, Laura Helmuth, asked her friends what they would have died of had modern medical technology not existed. The results are fascinating.


September 26, 2013 at 12:38 am
(1) Don Hirschberg says:

If you add up the age at death of the first ten American presidents you get 774. Divide by 10 and you get 77.4. Add 0.5 year as one on average lives six months after his last birthday. So the first ten presidents lived about 77.9 years on average.

To fix your thinking George Washington was born in 1732. (He probably died from being excessively bled.)

If you treat the data of the last ten presidents the same way you get an average lifespan of 77.2. (JFK who was killed at age 46 was not one of the ten considered.) 77.9 is statistically the same as 77.2 for samples this size.

Increasing average life-span is not so much about people living longer but preventing child deaths.

It is interesting to note that perhaps 20,000 children die PER DAY die from diarrhea world wide. A few drops of laundry bleach in the drinking water source would prevent most of these deaths. .

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