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Brian Gaff \(Sofa\) Brian Gaff \(Sofa\) is offline
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Default OT: Latering thinking puzzle "Why do more peoplre die on their bithday than any other day?"

What has Giles ever done to you? Actually a friend who knows him says, he
does tend to deliberately wind people up, but is actually a kind person.



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"NY" wrote in message
"GB" wrote in message
On 12/06/2021 14:56, NY wrote:

One person said "More people die on their birthday than any other day.
Why is this?" This was presented as if it were a fact. We had no way of
knowing whether it was indeed the case - it was long before Wkipedia and
articles such as which
describe the effect and give various medical reasons.

We tried all the obvious things like "does this include babies that are
born dead or who die within a few hours" and "does it include
alcohol-related accidents when people do stupid things at their birthday
party". No, we were told. We were over-thinking the problem and
over-complicating it. The reason was blindingly obvious. The question
became really quite smug (to the point that I could see some of my mates
were itching to punch his lights out!) and said that the teacher had
asked the question when he was a lad at school; although he'd never been
asked it before or even thought about it, he got the answer immediately.
He was amazed than none of us could work it out. "Is this true in all
cultures?" "Is it true even if you don't know the date and therefore
whether today is your birthday?" He just smiled smugly and repeated that
we were thinking far too deeply and analytically about it.

Sadly we never did find out the answer: it was left as "I'll let you
think about it. Come and tell me when you eventually work out the
answer" and I never saw him again.

Can anyone think of a logical reason, which doesn't involve
alcohol-related accidents, people who are terminally ill holding out
until their next birthday, depression/suicide "I'm a year older than I
was" etc? Something which is "blindingly obvious" even to a ten-year-old
at school?

If you include deaths immediately after birth, surely that would be
enough to swing the figures?

If deaths were randomly distributed, you'd expect roughly 3 per 1000
deaths on any day of the year.

The neonatal mortality rate in this country is about 3 per 1000 live
births, with a substantial number of those on the day of birth (literally
the birthday).

So, all other things being equal, you'd have a 3 per 1000 chance of dying
on any day of the year, except your birthday when you have to add in
roughly an extra 3 per 1000 chance that you died at birth.

Sorry, but there's no tactful way of explaining that.

I agree with your explanation, But the questioner had ruled it out as
"over-complicating" the issue. He acknowledged that things like neonatal
death would have a small affect, as would psychological things like
terminal patients "holding on" to stay alive until a special event, or
people committing suicide more frequently on their birthday or at
Christmas. But all these perfectly valid effects were negligible compared
with "his" explanation - he said.

If I'd thought at the time, I'd like to have asked him whether people with
a more analytical, questioning approach would be more or less likely to
hit on "his" answer than people who thought more in terms of words and
concepts, rather than statistics and medical explanations. I'd also have
asked him whether everyone in his class worked it out at roughly the same
time: was it some thought process that had been taught at school and which
the teacher was relying on when he asked his class the question.

As an aside, the way he asked the question and responded to questions was
a textbook example of how to alienate your audience and make them want to
hit you. He had a smug attitude of "I know the answer and you don't. I'm
amazed no-one has got anywhere *near* the right answer". Think of Jeremy
Beadle crossed with Gyles Brandreth to get an idea of how insufferably
smug and gleeful he was ;-) I was reminded of the question when I saw a
reference to Gyles Brandreth the other day.