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Wait till the Herald Sun works out about the chance of lightning in Melbourne…

So, once again I can get my rant on….

Today the Herald Sun picked up the perennial favourite of all newspapers and politicians (well politicians around election time), law and order and public transport.

After an exhaustive FOI request, headline numbers and the shocking statistics of assaults at train stations has come out.

Now, firstly, I must say, for anyone that has been attacked in this way for you I am sure it was a horrific crime and certainly I don’t mean to denigrate what you have experienced.  I am just trying to put it into perspective for the rest of us.

So we will start with the headline.

“Suburban assaults are on track with Flinders St station”

WTF does this even mean.  I think they are trying to have a clever play on words, but it got lost in sub-editing land, and we thought it was bad for The Age…

But moving on as it were… to the first in bold par.

FLINDERS St may be the most dangerous station in Melbourne, but a suburban transport hub isn’t far behind.

OMG you are saying, but that is the busiest station in Melbourne, chances are if you live in Melbourne you’ll get off there at some point.  Better watch your back when you get of the train….

There were more assaults (31) at Flinders St than any other station last year, but close behind the city’s busiest station was Dandenong (28).

OMG again… 31 assaults at Flinders St.  But wait there is something that is missing from the rest of articles text that is only in the image header.  “Stations with most assaults last year”

Now I am sure that the Herald Sun is familiar with the laws around accessibility as well, so I wouldn’t need to tell them that having a vital part of the story only has a graphic which only has a alt tag that says alt=”rail assault” would be a really bad thing.  Also any one that looked at the story say on a mobile phone with out images would get a very very different story.

The Herald Sun obviously forget to put in an FOI request for the number of people that visit these stations each year.  Instead of wasting money on an FOI request a quick Google search tells me that..  and wait for it…

“Over 100,000 people use Flinders Street Station each day.”

So, we are looking at a total of 31 Assaults each YEAR, yes year, not day, week, or month.. but year.  Now compare that to the 36,500,000 people that pass through Flinders St Station per year you will see the scale of the problem. You will notice that that number is MORE than the total population of Australia.  Yes, those 31 assaults are moving into the realms of complete improbability.

That is to say that the chances of assault at Flinders St station are beyond insignificant are in the .000000 kind of range. Or for the mathematically lazy, 1:1 177 419.  The chance of lightning strike is 1:1,603,250, dying from a venomous bite/bee sting 1:1,159,364.  Even more scary, the chance of dying from falling out out of your bed or chair — 1 in 513,142.  So you are 2 times more likely to die from getting out of bed that get assaulted at Flinders St Station. (*These stats from here )

You can run an Improbability Drive on these kind of odds.

Perhaps if the Herald Sun stopped and thought before creating a fear campaign we would realise just how safe and wonderful our country really is.

— Update–

Turns out the Herald Sun did an article on the dangers of falling out of bed.( 28/6/11 )

More than 1600 were admitted to hospital in the year to June 2010 after tumbling out of bed, Monash University Accident Research Centre data shows.

Falls accounted for 43,772 hospital admissions, with people more likely to hurt themselves falling out of bed or slipping off chairs than falling from ladders or trees.

While more than three-quarters of patients went home within a week, nearly 900 died in hospital.

When will the Victorian Government put armed guards at our bedsides to stop this outrage of death and serious injury!