64. Beware of the stairs.

I’m feeling a little guilty. Just a tiny bit. I fell prey to a trend yesterday, and it’s not one to be encouraged. It’s one that the Discovery Channel and National Geographic are absolutely besotted with. Nature, if the TV people (and me) are to be believed, is out to get you. It wants you dead. And your family. And everyone you have ever loved.

I don't think they really understand the "mother" part of Mother Nature.

I don’t think they really understand the “mother” part of Mother Nature.

It doesn’t, actually. I wrote about an unusual little spate of giraffe attacks yesterday. It was worth writing about, precisely because it has been so unusual. The truth is that giraffes really are gentle creatures at heart. They just happen to be wild animals. Big ones. Ones that have evolved to defend themselves from some fairly robust predators. On the incredibly rare occasions that they do go off the rails, it can get a little scary. But in the larger scheme of things, they simply aren’t dangerous.

This is a Great White shark.

Hi! Come on in, the water's lovely.

Hi! Come on in, the water’s lovely.

It’s a monster, in the true sense of the word. It’s nearly five metres long and weighs over a thousand kilograms. It can swim at 40km/h and bite you in half without breaking a sweat. It is not dangerous at all.

It's not like it can fly or anything.

It’s not like it can fly or anything.

Cows are.

This is a Grizzly bear.

Did you hear the one about the Scotsman in the thistle field?

Did you hear the one about the Scotsman in the thistle field?

It’s also a monster, weighing in at over 300 kg. It’s very close to being the biggest predatory mammal in the world. Only Polar bears are bigger. But it’s not dangerous either.

Deer, on the other hand…

The king of the beasts?

Oh' look! A big fluffy kitty!

Oh look! A big fluffy kitty!

Now we’re talking. It’s nearly one twentieth as dangerous as a British staircase.

You see, sharks only kill about eighteen people a year. That’s all sharks, not just Great Whites. It’s not like we’re not giving them the opportunity, either. This is what our beaches look like.

There's nothing quite like relaxing and unwinding in the great outdoors.

There’s nothing quite like relaxing and unwinding in the great outdoors.

Cows, however, kill 22 people in the US alone.



Grizzly bears don’t even crack the nod for one death a year. Deer? More than 150.

Look at those cold, dark, eyes. It's like staring into your own grave.

Look at those cold, dark, eyes. It’s like staring into your own grave.

Lions? 50 a year. British staircases? About a thousand.

The Germans at least keep theirs behind closed doors.

The Germans at least keep theirs behind closed doors.

I’m being slightly disingenuous. Statistics are easy to meddle with. You probably climbed 10 sets of stairs today, and, unless you are from Africa, are unlikely to have ever even seen a wild lion. But the fact remains; there are 7 billion people in the world right now, and if lions kill 50 of them a year, that wouldn’t even appear as a number on a statistician’s radar.

The thing is, we have been the most dangerous animal on the planet for a very long time. Animals are scared of us. Even the big ones. On top of that, the people exposed to wild animals the most tend to be the ones who know how best to behave around them. There are some very dangerous things out there. Hippos kill nearly 3000 people a year in Africa. Snakes kill a lot more. But still not very many in the larger scheme of things. If you want to see something really dangerous, go and take a look in your driveway.

Quick! Get in the car and lock the doors! It's a car!

Quick! Get in the car and lock the doors! It’s a car!

Over 14000 people die on the roads in South Africa every year. And those deer-related deaths I mentioned earlier? Car accidents.

So when you see a show on TV called “Anatomy of a Killer” or “Twelve Deadliest”, or read a blog post about ravening giraffes, take it with a pinch of salt. These things are dangerous, sure. But less dangerous than electricity, and you let that stuff flow around your house.

Don’t think ill of the noble giraffe just because I pointed out they’ve been trying to kill people, is what I’m saying.

Think ill of these guys instead.

Think very ill indeed.

Think very ill indeed.

If you want a dangerous wild animal to be scared of, those guys kill nearly three million people a year. Which makes your average staircase look as harmless as a bear carrying a shark.


55 thoughts on “64. Beware of the stairs.

  1. I suppose we need to know the dangers that might befall us, but it seems to me we are a people obsessed with wanting to be scared. I would rather watch a program about all the things that make us safe. Maybe I’m just strange! 😉

  2. waterbl00 says:

    This was great!! Deers are just aliens in disguise…killer aliens 😛

  3. Johna Till Johnson says:

    Another fine post! Thanks!

  4. Oh my, you made me laugh again. Too funny.

  5. “Lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

  6. mariekeates says:

    Those stairs are scary things I tell you. I’ve had some nasty run in with them, a dislocated shoulder. A broken foot and a dislocated coccyx and that’s just the ones in my own house!

    • 23thorns says:

      Ouch. I hope it was all in one go and not every time you pop down for a drink of water. Because then you should be considering moving. I hear Mongolia is pretty flat.

      • mariekeates says:

        It was actually three separate incidents, luckily some years apart. One was actually an attempt on my life by my husband. He left a trailing electrical wire across the top of the stairs. One was another husband trying to kill me, a pile of junk on the stairs first thing in the morning. The third was my own fault, I was hung over and half asleep.

  7. narf77 says:

    Australia is almost as dangerous a place as Africa. Where you have great big muscular animals that feel the need to roam around living their life cycles without apology or thought for the humans who feel the need to co-opt all cycles and call them their own, we have a lot of smaller things with less muscles and simpler cycles that are deadly. I quote my learned colleague “Bob in Oz” from his amazing (and most accurate) website “What it’s really like to live in Australia”. “Australia has around 140 different species of snake of which 12 can kill. We have another 30 or so sea snakes. According to my research, there have been 41 snakebite deaths since 1980 in Australia.” Even with my rudimentary mathematics that adds up to an average of 1.2 deaths a year. Please don’t ask me if that’s a mean average or some other kind of average. I am just proud of myself that I KNOW what “average” means in any other context than it simply being part of the masses.
    We have biggish sharks as well. Our sharks head over to Africa to get big. They don’t come back…why would they? There are so many bigger, more muscular tasty things to eat in Africa. Shark bite deaths account for 2 deaths in Australia a year according to Bob. Bob REALLY wants you all to move to Australia for some reason. He tells you how to import your pets he will give you a free copy of “20 Reasons Why YOU Should Move to Australia”. He is a man on a mission and the smiling unkempt middle aged man who feels the need to add text and arrows to ensure that his readers can tell the difference between Himself and the Australian Opera House is obviously attempting to encourage the wrong sort of people here.
    I decided to head over to the Australian Bureau of Statistics to get a more accurate idea of just what IS killing Aussies each year and found out that the leading cause of death in Australia is from heart attacks. Most probably from finding one of those small deadly animals under your door mat or going fishing in your small aluminium “tinny” and seeing a fin.

    • 23thorns says:

      Australia is actually much more dangerous. Those big, muscular animals are pretty easy to spot. It’s the hidden things that get you. Australia seems to full of hidden things designed specifically to kill people. I remember reading somewhere that the Funnel Web spider is harmless to animals like cats.

      • narf77 says:

        Cats are alien creatures. Did you ever read the Terry Pratchett novel “The Last Continent”? Mr Pratchett certainly knew all about our predilection for nasty bitey things. We are blasé about our bitey small creatures. That’s what caused our tall poppy syndrome. We are just warning people who want to lift themselves out of the ooze of mediocrity that there is true safety in numbers…

  8. That made me smile! It also reminded me of the fact that coconuts are more dangerous than sharks – more people are killed by falling coconuts than are killed by sharks. 🙂

  9. Art Brûlant says:

    Thanks for the reality check……….little things waiting in the wings……….watching…………..In the North Woods they are not waiting!

  10. Jocelyn Hers says:

    You forgot the most dangerous place in the world. Statistically speaking,more people find beds lethal, i.e. die there, than anywhere else. S’true.
    I love your captions….

  11. I really enjoyed your whimsy! Thank you so much for the giggle

  12. kokkieh says:

    This reminds me of an interview with Peter Benchley I once read some years after a movie was made of his novel, Jaws . At that point much more was known of sharks and he expressed some regret at even having written his novel, especially as it almost caused the extinction of one of the oldest animals on Earth.

    Correction: the polar bear is the largest predatory land mammal. Don’t forget the killer whale 😉

  13. Dylan Hearn says:

    Are you trying to say the media ignore facts to promote an agenda in order to maximise revenues? I can’t believe it. Next you’ll be telling me that pharmaceutical companies exploit people’s fears in order to sell more drugs.

  14. Nothing like a really good dose of reality. I wonder how the deaths from mozzies would stack up next to the rate of people who die by human hand. Excluding cars.

    • 23thorns says:

      Frighteningly well. Such reputable sources as the National Geographic and the New York Times recon one out of every two people who have ever lived has been killed by mozzies. And in the war in the Pacific, they killed more people than the combat did.

  15. liz2you says:

    Now I have to climb stairs about four times a day! Thanks hey!

  16. Miriam says:

    You are very funny. I love this post.

  17. smallpebbles says:

    Nature keeps humans from getting too uppity – if we at all pay attention (which usually we don’t).

  18. Buzzwordz says:

    So what would it take to get you to up your challenge from 100 posts in 100 days to 200 posts in 200 days? I am actually finding myself worrying about when the 100 days are up! Oh Pleeeeeeze?

  19. Lyn says:

    it’s always the little things that do it. The mosquito – malaria, the flea – the black plague, the letter “m”. Yes, the letter “m”. You’re writing about grammar, leave the letter “m” out of “comma” and you end up in a coma. Not good, not good at all.

  20. Kami Tilby says:

    I needed some perspective today. That was certainly one. Thanks for the chuckle.

  21. Erica says:

    The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ride horses. Just sayin’.

  22. sisteranan says:

    You forgot to mention the fried chicken, easily the most lethal animal on the planet.

  23. From Killer COWS, I should Shy?
    Oh My!
    And the Vicious Deer?
    Should fill me with Fear?
    Such numbers could cause Insanity,
    if I did not have a firm grip on Reality.

    A Good Read, Thanks!

  24. menomama3 says:

    Thank god you have restored order to the world. My family can visit the Toronto Zoo without fear of a giraffe attack. But damn those mosquitos carrying West Nile virus. Aaargh. It’s always something.

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