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What Paleontology Tells Us About Driving Deaths

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By Brendan OConnor on September 18, 2012

Hold on to your butts! The New York Times has published an infographic (click through for the full image) detailing auto fatalities per 100,000 people against miles driven per capita every year since 1950. The rise and fall of deaths on the road tracks with major social and economic events such as the introduction muscle cars, the energy crisis of the early ’70s and Ralph Nader writing a book.

Apparently, the graph evokes the theory of punctuated equilibrium, proposed by paleontologists Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge, “which suggests that instead of continuous gradual evolution, change occurs abruptly after periods of virtual standstill.” They do move in herds!

Gould and Eldredge’s theory proposes that most species exhibit very little evolutionary change during the course of their geological existence: this lengthy period is known as “stasis.” When evolutionary events do happen, Gould and Eldredge propose, they are rapid and isolated: this relatively less lengthy period is known as “cladogenesis.” None of this really matters, though, because evolution isn’t real.

The marked decline of auto deaths in recent years is attributable not only to increased vehicular safety but also unemployment: fewer people working means fewer drivers driving to work. Maybe the extinction of the American economy isn’t such a bad thing, after all. As Dr. Malcolm would say, “That’s chaos theory.”

Most impressively, the graph contains a loop-the-loop! If we had been allowed to make line graphs with loop-the-loops in 6th grade science I probably would have paid more attention. Thanks for that, Mrs. Tilmont. No loop-the-loop line graphs, no dinosaur DNA spliced with amphibian DNA. What a waste of time.

Drive safe, people.

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[New York Times]
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