Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Probability of a Meteorite Strike

Here's the official formula for calculating Los Angeles.

Area of Earth = 5.1 x 10^8 km^2

about 500 meteorites fall every year

area of los angeles = 1200 km^2

estimate the probability that a meteorite will fall in Los angeles in the next year.
All right, I admit being involved in a truly legitimate DGU may be slightly more likely than this, but not enough to justify owning and especially carrying guns.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.


  1. That comparison makes no sense--you might as well compare my chances of being hit by a meteor vs. winning PowerBall. Per the latest FBI crime statistics for 2009, there were 429 violent crimes per 100,000 inhabitants of the US (, so I'd say 0.43% is my actual chance of being involved in a DGU. Didn't do the math on your meteor strike, but I'd say that a DGU would represent a statistically much higher number, and one that is based entirely on facts. For a legitimate comparison of risks being mitigated by actions that I take, compare that to my chances of being injured in a house fire, a mere 5.2 per 100,000 (, yet I still have smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in my house. The chance of being a victim of violent crime is over 80 times more likely, so of course I also make the decision to carry a firearm with me (both in public and in my home).

  2. Colin, Please tell me you didn't take that meteorite vs DGU comparison seriously.

    This on-going meteorite theme is my humorous way of saying your're chances of using your gun for a legitimate DGU are so low that you might as well worry about falling stars.

    The other deduction from this is, if we must get serious about it, that your chances of having one of your weapons misused is much greater than the possibility that you'll ever need it to save the day. That makes what you do a bad decision, which I don't mind too much as long as you are one of the truly careful and responsible ones.

  3. I'm never really sure with you, Mike. Does this mean that your "10%," which is equally as made-up, is just a joke too?

    While we're on the subject of using actual facts in our arguments, lets examine the risk-reward analysis of owning/carrying a firearm for defensive purposes. We've already established that any given individual in the US has a 0.43% chance of needing a firearm to defend themselves from violent crime. Now let's figure out the chances of being injured/killed by a firearm. For the sake of argument, we'll assume that all gun injuries/deaths occur solely within the law-abiding gun owner community. This will give us an absolute maximum "risk" of gun ownership, but we both know things like criminal gun violence and personal responsibility (safe storage, 4 Rules, etc) mean that percentage is some amount lower (I'd imagine more like half, but I'm sure you'd disagree). So, from previous comments I've made (with the sources cited), there are in the neighborhood of 14,000 non-suicide gun deaths in the US each year, and approximately 200K gun injuries. There are also approximately 80 million legal gun owners, so the "risk" percentage is: 214,000/80,000,000, or 0.27%, which is much lower than my chance of needing a gun to defend myself (0.43%). To make that more clear, I'm at least 60% more likely to need a gun defensively than I am to be hurt or killed by one, so I'd say the rewards far outweigh the risks. I don't think you can dispute any of those numbers (even including suicides like you are wont to do only increases the "risk" of gun ownership to 0.28%). Given my actual statistical proof, I fail to see how carrying a firearm is a "bad decision." You may feel or believe that it's a bad decision, but the numbers certainly say otherwise.

  4. I'm not sure what you mean about my 10% hypothesis (Joe Huffman explained the difference between theory and hypothesis to me). Of course I made it up, in the same way I made up the meteorite comparison. But with the 10% deal, I provided links to bonafide statistics and based on what I've often been told about gun owners, that they're no different than everybody else, I simply extrapolated. Then, to be fair, I chopped the percentages down to provide what you'd call a "conservative estimate."

    In any case, the meteorite is silly business to make a serious point. The 10% estimate is serious business to make a serious point.