Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Living End

The results of probably the most important research project of the last decade have just been released. The project, entitled De Morti Hominum, is a meta-analysis by Szabo, Fincke, and Fischetti of 1,117 studies in 28 languages of human deaths published over the last five decades. A baker’s dozen of major findings of the meta-analysis, sometimes surprising, are summarized below.

1)     Ubiquity—The presence of death was so widespread that it covered all the continents and non-continental areas (such as Polynesia).

2)     Concentration—Although death was ubiquitous, an interesting trend was discovered, which Szabo et al. have termed the “National Concentration Effect” (NCE). For example, most deaths of Chinese people happened to occur on the Asian continent, while most Brazilians died in South America.

3)     Racial Factors—Apparently, race played no part in the avoidance of death, there being records of the mortality of members of all racial groups. Strangely, however, in some areas of the globe the deaths of certain races seemed to be over-represented and others under-represented (e.g., members of the Caucasian race versus the Negroid in Lapland). Szabo et al. suggest introducing more members of the Negroid race into Lapland for a controlled longitudinal study of this phenomenon.

4)     Religious Factors—Another anomaly was noted in studying deaths by religion. In every decade many more Christians and Muslims died than Jews.

5)     Age Factors--Death was no respecter of age; deaths were recorded of humans of all ages from neo-natals to centenarians.

6)     Occupational Factors—The belief that an active life (contrasted with a sedentary one) would render one immune to death was disproved when statistics showed that persons in active professions (such as athletes, lumberjacks, and firefighters) were subject to death like those in sedentary ones (such as accountants, computer hackers, and newscasters).

7)     Indoor/Outdoor—Similarly, there was no escaping death whether one worked outdoors (like a farmer) or indoors (like an elevator operator).

8)     Body and Exercise—The study showed that the shape of one’s body did not determine one’s death outcome. Persons of all body shapes from the obese to the anorexic were subject to mortality. And no exercise regime—from yoga to Pilates, from weightlifting to stationary biking—increased one’s chances of ultimately avoiding death.

9)     Verticality—Height also showed no statistical probability of avoiding death, as records from different parts of the world evidenced the mortality of dwarves and giants, although most persons who died were between 152 and 188 centimeters.

10) Eating Habits—The belief that abstaining from eating certain foods (such as meat) would immunize one from death was also shown to be erroneous, as vegetarians and vegans did not avoid death in any great numbers.

11) Gender Issues—Nearly half those who experienced death were female and nearly half were male. The researchers were unable to determine the exact percentages of each gender because of “Nomen Ambiguity” (NA), the uncertain status of persons with given names such as Kelly, Stacy, and Morgan.

12) The Crucial Factor—The only statistically-relevant factor discovered in the study was the all-important one: the cause of death. Records from all countries (of deaths of persons of all races, religions, occupations, etc.) showed that all deaths were caused by cessation of cardiacal activity (in layman’s terms, the heart stopped). Prior to this cessation, the only thing all of the decedents had in common was life. Thus it can be concluded that life is the major contributor to death.

13) The Major Anomaly—The study showed that for decades prior to bodily death, political commentators had already been brain-dead.