Earlier this week, my hometown newspaper, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, ran a lengthy article reporting the death of a kite-boarder. He was killed by a shark.
It was a tragic event but because of the report — which was also repeated in newspapers and on television stations across the country — many people will be left with the distinct impression that shark attacks are much more common than they are. In fact, since 1690, only 50 shark-related deaths have occurred in American waters.
Unfortunately, because of such misperceptions, untold numbers of people will alter their behavior. For example, people will avoid Florida for vacations and parents won't let kids play in the water for fear of a shark attack.
If it makes you feel any better, as I wrote last month you are 300 times more likely to be killed by a deer while driving a car than you are to meet your demise at the teeth of a shark. So, by all means, feel free to avoid driving in deer-populated states if you wish; or you can simply unlearn. The choice is yours.