I’ve come across a bit of a dark habit in recent days (maybe months) which I’m sure is not going to land me in a straight jacket but be that as it may..has resulted in the development of a morbid curiosity about historical death stats. Ladies?
This all started from listening to what was supposed to be an amusing radio news story about Germany finally paying up its wartime reparations for WW1. That’s right, 100 years post the war and it appears their bill is finally sorted, weird huh? Apparently, they’re still paying for WW2 and I’m going to make a conservative guess that the outlay for that fucking heinous carnage is going to take more than one century of payments to compensate. Anyway, off the soapbox, this led me to wondering how many people died in WW1. Sure, I’ve got a lot of time taking the train to work every day and get bored listening to podcasts on my iphone (not always, but on that particular day, my mind was drifting).
So this began about a.. say 3-5 hour hardcore, super reliably sourced research burst on wiki which started on WW1 casualties and led to almost any death toll stat I could educate myself on. Hmmm… this subject matter.. not as funny as I thought it was going to be.
So first thing I discovered was that anywhere from 15M to 65M people died in the first big war. Actually well before then, there were shitloads of wars, especially in China and it’s amazing how they grew to a population so massive when this one race has suffered more war, natural disaster and famine than any other people in history. Maybe I should start paying out less on these people but that’s going to take a lifetime of changing a bad habit, long story.
Anyway, this started with war, then went to natural disasters, serial killer victims, individual battles, genocides, diseases etc etc. I was literally on wiki for over five hours and then felt super depressed about how many people collectively have bought it via the above means.
Below are the highlights of what I found.. enjoy big fun reading (not).
Biggest killer of all – ww2 (no surprises I guess) at 72M, obviously aided by 11M Jews killed in the Holocaust and countless Russians soldiers freezing to death in the snow (nice).
Number 2…. Europeans colonizing Asian and Africa – 60M.. WTF.. really? Add to that, the same arseholes who went on a killing spree of native indians in the US, that would be another 10M. It’s always the poor that get railed by civilised societies – being indigenous just isn’t worth it huh?
And to round out the top 3, famine – I didn’t see that one coming either but you might as well be war. Mao starved 43M of his own people to death in the under Red China from 1959 – 62. Then again, the greatest empire (or so they claim), the British managed to dispatch about 25M Indians (Sub Continent, cricket playing Indians) during colonization – nice work chaps.
The serial killer or mass murderers stats was an ugly read and a good way to lose faith in all that’s good in the world.
One reason not to visit and surely not to live in Colombia – the 2 most prolific murderers and unfortunately also child rapists of all time did their work, killing maybe up to 600 kids. And jolly old England takes out 3rd spot with a woman killing 274 children (again…?) and dumping them in the Thames River and England again in 4th spot with a doctor taking out 218 of his own patients. Bet you thought the US was going to take out these accolades huh.. that was my guess. Maybe that’s because they make movies about serial killers and it’s easy to get confused.
Overwhelmed?.. I was. If you’re a heartless, vacuous, self involved individual.. then maybe not. But here’s a positive spin to this gloomy tail. Worry not about crazy dictators wiping out your population, or the British Empire re- rising or even some nutjob planning to go postal in a public place just where you happen to be eating lunch..
WHY? Because you’ll get taken out by…. infection (23% or the world death rate this is), heart disease (13%), cancer (12%), stoke (10%), accidents (6%) or suicide (1.5%). War, other violent crime, terrorist attacks don’t even make up 1%. More people die from falling and measles. Fascinating huh?