Hyperbole is an interesting technique. Today, the editors of Treehugger published a work by a Canadian named Lloyd Alter, titled, 35,092 Americans Died Last Year While Walking, Biking, and Driving.

In a rather clumsy attempt at public persuasion, Lloyd tried to connect motor vehicle deaths in the USA with proposed traffic policies for the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

First, I will brush aside how a foreign province in a foreign land with different population density, different vehicle density and different rules about license acquisition as well as vehicle operation  — that is, the design, and hence cause — will give rise to different results, the effects. Yet, in his bio, Lloyd Alter of Toronto, Canada, the "design" editor of TreeHugger touts himself as an architect and a college egghead who teaches "design" at the at Ryerson University School of Interior Design.

Lloyd is bad at persuasion. Lloyd is about as as bad as anyone can get. And his lack of insight into how outcomes arise calls into question his reasoning skills at seeing any valid design.

Poor Lloyd,  the alleged "design" guy.  Lloyd failed persuasion with his deceitful headline — Last year in the United States, 35,092 people were killed on the roads..."

Deaths from all motor vehicle accidents have fallen a significant 21.9% between 2006 and 2014, the latest years for full figures on causes of death have been made available by the Centers for Disease Control. Using Lloyd's reported number of 35,092, which is smaller than the CDC's number, all deaths from motor vehicle accidents has fallen 7.5% in only one year!

Let us look further into the effect of a design reality that Lloyd simply cannot see:

  • There were 10 deaths of Americans per 100,000 who merely fell down.
  • There were 13.2 deaths of Americans per 100,000 who were too stupid not to poison themselves!
  • There were 10.5 deaths of Americans per 100,000 who, by choice, drank themselves into death by cirrhosis.

Comparing to the foregoing, there were 11.1 motor vehicle deaths of Americans per 100,000.  

In spite of Lloyd's public display of stupidity, motor vehicle deaths are in line with other kinds of accidents which kill Americans — falling down, poisoning oneself. It seems that Americans have hit a wall of design with respect to making Americans less accident prone when some Americans are left to their own decision power.

Dummy, design-challenged Lloyd wrote to me, "No matter how you cut it, 35,092 people and 2.4 million injuries are a lot of people" — before cowardly deleting my DISQUS comment about his article. Someone should have taught Lloyd the design-challenged "Design Guy" this:

truth has but one design

 Assuming Lloyd's 35,092 figure is right for 2015, the total USA population for 2015 was 320,090,857.  In the face of USA population, 35,092 is such a small number of people to be meaningless.

That works out to the equivalent of one one-hundredths of a penny to a dollar. Ask anyone if she or he believes one part of a hundred parts of a penny matters compared to a dollar, or much better, ask if a one part of a hundred parts of a penny matters compared to a salary for a whole year.

Lloyd's public display of statistical stupidity grows worse when one compares his hyperbole to world population. His "a lot of people" of 35,092 amounts to slicing one penny into one thousand micro-fine slivers and taking merely four (four one-thousands of one-percent)

So readers of Treehugger need to ask what is Lloyd's agenda. Why did Lloyd take the public arena to try to scare readers with hyperbole?  Could it be that Lloyd is merely a car-hating Luddite?

So you should know. There were 812.5 deaths of Americans per 100,000 who died from any cause but motor vehicle related accidents! Said another way, there were 73.2 times as many deaths by all other causes than by motor vehicle related accidents!

From the National Vital Statistics Reports, Volume 65, No. 1 to Present, 2014, which is the latest year for full data reporting by the CDC for all death categories, nearly as many Americans died merely falling down as all did in Motor vehicle accidents (31,959 vs 35,398). About 20% more Americans died of poisoning themselves than from all motor vehicle accidents.

Lloyd seems not to know that 35,398 deaths is insignificant in the face of 2,626,418 deaths. Motor vehicle deaths accounted for a tiny one percent of all deaths. And in perspective, the 35,398 motor vehicle deaths in 2014 accounted for 0.01100407651% of the population in that year. If you can't read that number, that is one one hundreds of one percent. 

Dummy Lloyd fails to know that nearly twice as many Americans die from mostly preventable diabetes driven by obesity than they die by motor vehicle deaths. If people want to feel aghast, they should be up in arms over deaths caused diseases, which people could prevent with better decisions such as diabetes (overeating), which is massively bigger problem that Lloyd Alter's non-problem.

Better luck next time for Lloyd, eh? You can find design-challenged Lloyd's contact info here: Lloyd Alter, Treehugger.

I encourage Lloyd and others like him to watch the video below and grasp some concepts about cause and effect.