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Fun Facts: Interesting Statistics

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." —Benjamin Disraeli

For more interesting statistics, see interesting statistics #2. For facts on statisticians and the field of statistics, as opposed to individual interesting statistics, see Numbers and Measurement. For online puzzles dealing with probability, you can see Pillow-Problems, problem #5, problem #16, and problem #19.

You might think that the most common street name in the United States would be "First", but according to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, the most common street name is "Second", with 10,866 occurrences. Funny enough though, "First" isn't in second place either; "Third" is in second place with 10,131 occurrences, while "First" is in third place with 9,898. (source)

The population of the Earth can be a source of many interesting statistics. In the year 8,000 B.C., there were only 5 million people on Earth. Four thousand years later, the population had only risen by 2 million people, to 7 million people. Nowadays, Earth's population rises by 2 million roughly every nine days. (source)

In 1662, John Graunt, a London merchant, published the first set of actuarial tables in his book Observations on the Bills of Mortality. Graunt provides many interesting statistics regarding causes of deaths in London in 1632. Seven people are listed as being murdered, 10 people as having died from cancer, and no specific mention is made of heart ailments. On the other hand, 13 people are listed as having died from "planet", 38 from "king's evil", and 98 from "rising of the lights". Possibly the saddest statistic, however, is that out of 9,535 deaths that year, infants made up 2,268 of them, over 23%. (source)

Also found in: Firsts | Unusual Ways to Die

Worldwide, around 265 people are born every minute and 115 people die, for a net increase in population of 150 people every minute. (source)

The current population of Earth is over 7,000,000,000. Around 1900 there were only 1,600,000,000 people, meaning that Earth's population has more than quadrupled in slightly over 100 years' time. (source)

Also found in: Planet Earth

Only 1% of the population has a "genius" IQ, one of 140 or higher. (source)

Also found in: Geniuses

Over 88% of the world's population lives north of the Equator. (source)

In 1985, NASA estimated the probability of a space shuttle accident to be 1 in 100,000. However, on the 25th shuttle launch on January 28, 1986, Challenger exploded after take-off, killing all seven astronauts aboard; on February 1, 2003, the 113rd mission, Columbia exploded on re-entry, again with the loss of all seven astronauts. Other groups had earlier estimated the probability of failure as being closer to 1 in 100, a probability that now seems more reasonable.

Also found in: Exploration | Misconceptions

In a study of 3,000 people who made New Year's resolutions in 2007, only 12% stuck to them. The resolution with the greatest chance of success was "to enjoy life more". (source)

In 1936, Literary Digest magazine polled 10 million people using the telephone and its mailing list to try to predict the outcome of the United States presidential election, more people than in any previous presidential election survey. Their results indicated that Alf Landon would defeat Franklin Roosevelt by a margin of 370 electoral votes to 161; however, in the election, Landon was trounced by Roosevelt by a margin of 523 electoral votes to 8, at the time the largest landslide in a contested presidential election. The problem with the survey was that, during the Great Depression, telephones and magazine subscriptions were luxuries that not everybody could afford. Those who could afford such luxuries tended to vote Republican, but the voting public in general was more inclined to vote Democrat. (source)

In 1915, statistics were compiled from 18 U.S. states of the number of deaths from three branches of outdoor sport. 16 people were killed in football, 59 in hunting, and 59 in baseball. (source)

Also found in: Unusual Ways to Die

In 1938, a United States presidential commission concluded that the nation's population would never reach 140 million. The population exceeded that figure only eight years later. (source)

Also found in: United States

According to a study by Swiss researchers, people are 14% more likely to die on their birthday than on any other day of the year. (source)

Half of the population of Uganda is under 15 years of age. (source)

Also found in: World Countries

100 people a year choke to death on ball-point pens.

Also found in: Unusual Ways to Die

A group of researchers counted the number of troubles in the world, and came up with a total of 2,653. (source)

In 1997, U.S. News & World Report surveyed its readers as to whether they believed various well-known figures to be "very likely" or "somewhat likely" to get into heaven. More people (87%) picked themselves as being likely to get into heaven than anyone else, ahead of people such as Mother Teresa (second place, 79%) or Oprah Winfrey (third place, 66%). (source)

In 1915, the average American worker earned $687 yearly; however, there were 44 families that year with an income of $1,000,000 or greater, and 1,598 families with an income between $100,000 and $1,000,000. (source)

Around 1,900,000,000 Christmas cards are given in the United States of America yearly, making it the largest card-sending occasion in the country. The second-largest is Valentine's Day, with approximately 192 million cards being given. (source)

In 1915, when 100 million people lived in the United States of America, there were 6.5 million farms. In 2006, when 300 million people lived in the United States of America, there were only 2.1 million farms. (source)

Also found in: United States

In the United States, a person's lifetime risk of being struck by lightning is 1 in 10,000.

The South American country of Suriname comprises around 23% Catholics, 25% Protestants, 20% Muslims, and 27% Hindus. Additionally, many of the native people practise traditional animism, a population of former black slaves whose ancestors escaped into the rainforest practise an African syncretic faith, and a Chinese community practises Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. (source)

In the 2001 census for England and Wales, around 390,000 people specified their religion as "Jedi". The Office for National Statistics in the United Kingdom does not recognise "Jedi" as a separate category, so those listing "Jedi" were classified as atheists. (source)