Man vs Statistics! Untrained Survival Verdict

Bear Grylls survival

Welcome to the Man vs Stats!

Note: this is not a guide to surviving. This is probability. Statistics is king. You find a gray mushroom and eat it. If it turns out 99% of gray mushrooms in that area are poisonous, your chances at living are pretty low.


Forget what this is about? Read the Intro


We’ve survived a lot over the course of the week. Let’s take a look at what the numbers day.



Plane Crashes – Likely Live


From a survivalist’s standpoint, planes are great. 76% of people involved in crashes survive the initial crash. The data is also right-skewed; disregarding the 3 most catastrophic plane crashes puts the survival rate at around 95%. Fortunately, most flight accidents happen during takeoff or landing, so chances of a survivor situation after a plane crash are pretty low anyways.

plane crash rate



Shipwrecked! – Less Likely

shipwreck ship


Shipwreck stats aren’t all the favorable to survivalists. The Titanic isn’t the only major shipwreck. More recently, the Joola, a Senegalese ferry, sank in 2002, drowning 1863 people (compared to the Titanic’s 1500 victims). Over the past decade, there’s been over 20 major shipwrecks, predominantly ferries, yachts, and cargo ships.

boat ship ocean rock cruise

What about staying afloat long enough to be rescued or drift onto land? It’s reported in the US that a third of people cannot swim. Worldwide, that number rises to more than half. It’s also worth noting that of the number of people who can swim, not all can swim in shock and freezing water for miles against the tides to make it to nearby land. 11.8% of US adults were diagnosed with heart disease, as reported in 2011. 8% of the US population is diagnosed with asthma.

Destroying Angel

Destroying Angel


Eating Mushrooms – Probably won’t kill, might be uncomfortable


Mushrooms have an interesting situation. Some you can eat. Others you can eat but will induce powerful hallucinations. There are some so hard you’d break your teeth trying to bite them. Of course, some will outright kill. Around 50% of mushrooms are unpalatable.  20% of mushrooms will be unpleasant to eat, whether psychoactive or causing digestive issues. Some estimates say only 1% of mushrooms produce secondary metabolites deadly to humans. That’s actually not bad. It’s important to note that these don’t include the mushrooms that’ll make you have explosive diarrhea or terrifying hallucinations.


Hunting and Gathering – Not very glorious, but a safe bet

Let’s find chow old school, aka hunting and gathering. Turns out, apples are some of the most abundant fruit in the world. According to survivalist Gregory J. Davenport, 99% of aggregate berries are edible. Some colors are safer to eat than others. There’s also a neat berry test to check edibility.

aggregate berry

aggregate berry


Fisherman should look for look for Engraulis ringens, the Peruvian anchoveta, ie the most abundant fish caught for food.

black rat

An estimated 12.5 million people in the US spend $22.9 billion over 220 million days annually hunting for game. Around 10.7 million go for big game, but survivalists will probably play the numbers. The most common animal that lasts more than a few bites is (unfortunately) the rat. Members of genus Rattus are numerous and great for eating. Might be hard to catch, though.

Source 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (feat. image from Discovery)


Pastry Chef (, software engineer (, and fitness enthusiast.

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1 Response

  1. January 11, 2013

    […] Tags: anchovies, berry test, edible berries, fishing, fruit, hunting, poisonous, rat, slingshot, squirrel, trap ← Man vs Statistics! Survivor’s Guide to Eating Mushrooms Man vs Statistics! Untrained Survival Verdict → […]

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