There has been a fair amount of coverage this morning about the Neknominate drinking game and the deaths that have arisen. This coverage displays the news making something to feel more dangerous than it really is.
There have been 3 reported deaths that I’ve read of and the Daily Telegraph has declared Neknominate as a “deadly game of drink or dare”.
Nobody reports on the hundreds of people who have played the game and lived, that 3 people have died where hundreds, possibly thousands haven’t suggests that it is possible to play the game and live and that it’s not actually all that deadly in comparison to other activities.
One of the things that makes it not so deadly is that the person playing actually has 100% control over the drink they decide to “neck”, yes an element of peer pressure is built in to egg people on to do more and more outlandish things, but ultimately the person performing is the one who decides what they drink or whether to drink at all. It’s not as if the people doing the Neknominations are surrounded by people urging them to drink, it’s easy to say no.
In the case of Stephen Brookes, who downed a pint of vodka before dying, did the game kill him or more accurately was it his ridiculous decision to down a pint of vodka. Stephen Brookes a 29 year old adult, could apparently not anticipate any problems that may arise from downing a pint of vodka.
People have died from downing vodka before, such as this man in Teesside - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tees-11437449. He was a fool but also an example that people were doing stupid things before Neknominate came along.
It goes without saying that anybody playing the Neknominate game is an idiot. It is an exercise in outdoing your peers through pure idiocy motivated by an inverse narcissism, a need for acceptance or praise for being an idiot. In itself that is harmless and something that has occurred time immemorial.
The danger comes from the uber-idiots that are playing it, the ones who take blatant risks with their immediate health such as downing pints of vodka. The people eating live animals or drinking urine may stand out as sub prime examples of humanity but they are not placing themselves in immediate danger and whether people decide to drink their urine or not is of no concern to anyone but them.
So just remember to ask when you read the news, what percentage of the people who have played Neknominate do the three deaths represent, and is it statistically significant enough that I should care?