Jun 7Liked by Mary Pat Campbell

Dear Mary Pat,

You've pointed out several times that one of the biggest stories in mortality - and especially for children - is the dramatic decline in motor vehicle deaths, over the last 50 years but very dramatically the last ~25.

Yet I doubt very many Americans are aware of this. In the popular press, this important fact seems to be like the story of the three blind men and the elephant, where people confidently describe the elephant based on feeling a small part of it.

(Maybe a better analogy is a distant black hole, or exoplanet, which has to be discovered by watching how things around it react.)

You wrote about how "guns" were breathlessly reported to now be the #1 cause of death for [a stretched definition of] children. Even with shifting the age of "children", they only got to claim this because of the very good and huge decline in auto accidents.

I ran into it again this week, where a writer, who is very insightful about the software industry, repeated the conventional wisdom that Volvo motors was punished in the American market because "Americans (besides a niche market of very smart ppl like the author) just don't care about safety."

A different framing: Volvo was an industry leader, and used their well-deserved reputation for safe vehicles to sell their more expensive cars at a premium. But ALL vehicles sold in the US have become much safer, reducing Volvo's competitive advantage.

The author laments that Volvo was aquired by Ford/Jaguar group, and that their engineering will be sacrificed to market demands. Quote:

".... If Geely declines to continue Volvo's commitment to structural safety, it may not be possible to buy a modern car that's designed to be safe."

-- (link below)

Of course, paying a premium for a car that will still protect you in a few very very rare crash scenarios is something most people would see as a kind of "luxury." What he is also saying is that driving a Volvo signaled that you were smart and likely to get rich, wheras now it just says rich.

(Maybe he has a red 1998 Volvo wagon with expired MA tags, 183,000 miles and a ski rack up on Craigslist and getting no intetest.)

You are just one (implacably logical) woman, how to beat back the tide of base rate fallacies and "Plato's Cave" journalism? I don't have an answer, but you give me hope.


Volvo comments are about halfway through. You would never guess this was written by a software engineer...LOL


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